Most Indian Stocks Advance, Led by Bharat Heavy; Wipro Declines

Most Indian stocks rose amid signs strengthening economic growth will drive earnings. Tata Steel Ltd. climbed to a 21-month high after saying sales increased. Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. reached the highest in two years.

Wipro Ltd., a software services exporter, fell for the first time in four days after the rupee touched a 19-month high, trimming the value of sales abroad.

“We are seeing good earnings and economic growth in India, and it’s a favored destination for foreign investors,” said D.K. Aggarwal, who manages funds for wealthy individuals as chairman of SMC Wealth Management Services Ltd. in New Delhi. Still, “markets have run up too fast, and at these levels it looks expensive.” Aggarwal declined to give the value of assets he oversees or say what stocks he’s buying and selling.

The Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensitive Index, or Sensex, was little changed at 17,941.37 as two more stocks rose than fell. The gauge’s 14-day relative strength index, measuring how rapidly prices rose or fell during the specified period, was above 70 yesterday, when the Sensex reached a two-year high. Some investors see readings above 70 as a signal to sell.

The Sensex has gained more than 9 percent since Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Feb. 26 pledged to trim the fiscal deficit from a 16-year high and boost funds for roads and power projects. The S&P CNX Nifty Index on the National Stock Exchange was little changed at 5,366.00, while the BSE 200 Index gained 0.2 percent to 2,250.87.

Wipro Retreats

Wipro declined 1 percent to 715.2 rupees. The Indian currency touched a 19-month high against the dollar yesterday, paring the value of sales generated overseas. Indian software exporters get 40 percent of their revenue from the U.S. Infosys Technologies Ltd., the country’s second-largest software services exporter, fell 1 percent to 2,651.25 rupees.

Tata Steel, the nation’s biggest producer, gained 1.3 percent to 687.6 rupees, the highest since July 2, 2008. Local sales rose 18 percent as demand improved in the year through March, the company said today.

Bharat Heavy, the biggest power-equipment maker, climbed 2.3 percent to 2,521.15 rupees, the highest since Jan. 1, 2008. India’s economic growth rate is “impressive” and may accelerate to the fastest pace in three years in the next 12 months, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on April 2.

Overseas investors bought a net 14.8 billion rupees ($333 million) of Indian stocks on March 31 and April 1, taking their total purchases of the equities this year to 221.3 billion rupees market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India said on its Web site. Foreign funds have been net buyers on all trading days since Mukherjee’s Feb. 26 budget.

Inflows into India’s stock market reached a record 834.2 billion rupees in 2009, beating the high set two years earlier in local 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:

Emami Ltd. (HMN IN), a maker of skincare cream, surged 1.8 percent to a record 694.1 rupees. The company is interested in acquisitions in pharmaceuticals and consumer businesses in India, according to its statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Nu Tek India Ltd. (NTKL IN), a telecommunications-infrastructure services provider, gained 9.9 percent to 38.35 rupees, a more than two-month high. The company plans to raise funds and set up a European unit to explore new business opportunities, it said in a statement to the stock exchange.

Shriram EPC Ltd. (SEPC IN), an engineering company, advanced 6.9 percent to 230.75 rupees, the steepest gain in almost six months. The company said it won an order worth 1.07 billion rupees from Steel Authority of India Ltd.

SpiceJet Ltd. (SJET IN), the discount carrier backed by billionaire Wilbur Ross, jumped the most in two months, adding 7.3 percent to 61.1 rupees. Religare Voyages Ltd. is close to buying a stake in the airline, the Daily News & Analysis reported today, citing a person it didn’t identify. Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Aggarwal declined to comment.

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