Sensex rises to record as rupee rallies on foreign inflows

Most Indian stocks rose, sending the benchmark index to a record, after the rupee climbed to an eight-month high as foreign investors extended Asia’s largest equity-market inflows.

By Rajhkumar K Shaaw

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Published: Thu 27 Mar 2014, 9:11 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 5:33 PM

Maruti Suzuki India rallied to an all-time high. Tata Steel headed for a five-week high. Sesa Sterlite and Hindalco Industries surged at least four per cent after prices of aluminium and copper rose in London. The rupee strengthened for a fourth day. It rose 0.5 per cent to 60.1650 per dollar in Mumbai.

Three stocks climbed for every two that dropped on the S&P BSE Sensex, which added 0.1 per cent to 22,076.85, according to preliminary closing prices.

The currency has risen 2.5 per cent this month, the most among major Asian currencies, as global funds plowed a net $3.5 billion into local shares and debt since March 1 amid easing inflation and forecasts for quickening growth, and before the elections due next month. “The current rally has been aided by improvement in the macroeconomic indicators and hopes of a stable government after the elections,” Prateek Agrawal, chief investment officer at ASK Investment Managers Pvt, which manages $316 million, said in a phone interview. “India looks attractive to foreign investors compared with other emerging markets.”

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, favored by investors seeking a change to revive the economy, is leading in opinion polls as voters punish Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Congress party for graft scandals, elevated inflation and the slowest economic growth in a decade. Congress is headed for its worst- ever electoral performance, polls show.

Maruti Suzuki rose for a fifth day. Tata Motors Ltd, the owner of Jaguar Land Rover, climbed the most since February 28.

Tata Steel rallied to a one-month high. Sesa was the best performer on the Sensex after a panel appointed by India’s top court suggested restart of iron-ore mining in the western Goa state, where the company owns its biggest mine.

Hindalco jumped to the highest level in three months. The S&P BSE India Metals Index added 2.6 per cent, a third day of gain. Reliance Industries, the owner of the world’s largest refining complex, climbed 1.8 per cent.

Oil & Natural Gas Corp, India’s largest explorer, rose 2.1 per cent, taking this month’s rally to 12 per cent.

Overseas investors bought a net $265 million of shares on March 24, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That extended this year’s inflows to $2.84 billion, the highest among eight Asian markets tracked by Bloomberg.

“We hadn’t expected the amount of money that has flowed in and that’s why the rupee is strengthening,” R. Sreesankar, head of institutional equities at Prabhudas Lilladher in Mumbai, said on Bloomberg TV India.

The Sensex has increased 4.3 per cent this year, the best performer among the four largest emerging markets including China, Russia and Brazil.

It’s valued at 14 times projected 12- month earnings, compared with the average multiple of 14.5 over the past five years. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index trades at 9.1 times. The CNX Nifty Index increased 0.2 per cent to 6,601.50. The India VIX jumped 7.1 per cent. — Bloomberg

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