Indian stocks head for record high, boosted by foreign fund inflows

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Indian equities headed for fresh all-time closing highs as foreign funds piled into the market, lured by the promise of faster economic growth and an extended pause on interest rates.

Equities rebounded from this year’s lows touched in March as global funds, disappointed by China’s uneven recovery, increased holdings of Indian stocks to capitalize on one of the fastest growth rates among major world economies. Global investors have bought more than $7 billion of local stocks since March, on track for the biggest quarterly purchases since the end of 2020, as China’s patchy economic recovery also helped boost India’s appeal.

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The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex jumped as much as 0.3 percent to 63,321.40 on Thursday, breaking past the previous record closing high of 63,284.19 in December. The NSE Nifty 50 Index also climbed, approaching unprecedented closing levels.

The rally may have more legs as Jefferies Financial Group Inc. last month said “it’s a matter of time until the Sensex hit the 100,000 level.” The Reserve Bank of India left its key interest rate
unchanged for a second straight meeting on Thursday.

“There is a very strong structural shift taking place in India as de-mand has remained strong despite cost pressures,” said Arun Malhotra, fund manager at CapGrow Capital Advisors LLP. “With moderating commodity prices, we are expecting a boost for corporate profits, especially for small and mid-sized firms. From a two-year perspective, a lot of juice is still there.”

India’s stock market has been supported by stable earnings outlook, and also by a rebound in Adani Group stocks after short seller Hindenburg Research’s report earlier in the year sparked a heavy selloff.

MSCI India Index constituents’ earnings are projected to grow by 11.9 percent this year, the second-fastest pace in Asia and other emerging markets, according to data compiled by Bloomberg
Intelligence.

Data released last week showed India’s economy grew 7.2 per-cent in the year to March 2023, higher than the 7 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. The Finance Ministry expects expects the economy to expand by 6.5 percent in the current year, higher than 5.2 percent forecast for China by the International Monetary Fund.

The Sensex has bounced around 10 percent after briefly entering correction territory in March. Steady earnings from lenders in the March quarter and bets of a revival in rural consumption are also supporting sentiment in the $3 trillion stock market.

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