Mahindra, Sterlite Gain as India's Sensex Index Rises to Highest in a Week

India’s stocks rose, pushing the benchmark stock index to its highest in more than a week, after an improving economic outlook prompted Nomura Holdings Inc. to turn “more bullish” on the nation’s equities.

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., India’s largest maker of sport- utility vehicles and tractors, climbed for the second day. Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd., the biggest copper and zinc producer, rose the most in two weeks. Nomura upgraded banks, property, construction, automobile and energy shares to “overweight” from “neutral.”

“The Indian economy is strong,” said Alex Mathews, head of research at Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services Ltd. in Kochi, southern India. “We’re advising investors to buy frontline stocks in a phased manner.” Mathews recommends shares of Infosys Technologies Ltd., the second-largest software services provider and explorer Oil & Natural Gas Corp.

The Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensitive Index, or Sensex, rose 278.56, or 1.7 percent, to 16,666.40, its highest since May 18. The S&P CNX Nifty Index on the National Stock Exchange added 1.7 percent to 5,003.10. The BSE 200 Index gained 1.5 percent to 2,106.75.

Mahindra soared 2.2 percent to 528.45 rupees. Tata Motors Ltd., India’s biggest truckmaker, increased 4.6 percent to 741.75 rupees. Government finances have improved, inflation has peaked, cash is available to fund the nation’s current account deficit, and stock valuations have fallen, Nomura analysts led by Prabhat Awasthi wrote in their note. The Sensex index has lost 4.6 percent this year, almost half the 9.5 percent decline in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Sterlite Gains

Sterlite jumped 4.5 percent to 644.05 rupees, its biggest advance since May 10. The stock has lost 25 percent of its value this year. Copper, which is headed for a second straight monthly drop, rose in London on speculation that an improving economy in the U.S. may feed demand.

Templeton Asset Management Ltd.’s Mark Mobius said he’s been buying stocks in India and the world’s largest emerging markets in the past month and called the slump in developing- economy shares a “correction” in a bull market.

“Despite the fact that a lot of people think that we are entering into a bear market, we don’t believe so,” Mobius, who oversees about $34 billion in emerging markets as Templeton Asset Management’s Singapore-based executive chairman, said in an interview yesterday in Cairo.

Overseas investors sold a net 14.2 billion rupees ($300 million) of Indian equities on May 25, reducing their purchases of the stocks this year to 201 billion rupees, according to the nation’s market regulator.

Inflows from overseas reached a record 834.2 billion rupees in 2009, exceeding the high set two years earlier in domestic currency terms, as the biggest rally in 18 years lured foreign funds. They sold a record 529.9 billion rupees of shares in 2008, triggering a record annual decline.

The following were among the most active on the exchange:

Godrej Industries Ltd. (GDSP IN) gained 1.3 percent to 146.15 rupees. The maker of chemicals and food products said profit for the year ended March 31 surged fourfold to 809 million rupees from a year earlier.

Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd. (GALK IN) climbed 1.3 percent to 116.05 rupees. The company said fourth-quarter profit jumped fourfold to 856 million rupees.

Gujarat NRE Coke Ltd. (GNC IN) rose 3.2 percent to 61.3 rupees. The country’s largest producer of coking coal plans to increase mining capacity to 6 million tons from 2.2 million tons in the next four years, the Hindu Business Line reported, citing Chairman Arun Jagatramka.

Jagatramka couldn’t immediately be reached at his office telephone for comment on the report.

Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers Co. (GNFC IN) sank 3.8 percent to 105.3 rupees. The company reported a loss of 382.6 million rupees in the quarter ended March 31, from a 195.4 million rupees profit in the previous year.

Oil India Ltd. (OINL IN) increased 2.3 percent to 1,266 rupees. The nation’s second-biggest state-run explorer said fourth-quarter profit surged sixfold to 4.31 billion rupees. The company is studying one “excellent” asset overseas, Chairman and Managing Director N.M. Borah said yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rajhkumar K Shaaw in Mumbai at rshaaw@bloomberg.net.

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