India’s Stocks Rise for Fifth Day on Earnings, Monsoon Outlook

India’s stocks advanced for the fifth day as the nation’s biggest copper producer reported earnings that beat analysts’ estimates, and after the weather bureau predicted normal monsoon rainfall.

Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd. rose the most in 11 weeks after its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled as it benefited from higher metal prices. Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., a tractor maker, climbed to a two-week high. Rains in the June-September monsoon season may be 98 percent of the 50-year average, the state forecaster said on April 23. That may ease inflation after an unexpected drought last year.

“The mood is very positive,” said Alex Mathews, head of research at Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services Ltd. in Kochi. “A normal monsoon is a big plus for the economy. It will help the government control inflation. Also, most earnings have been in line with forecasts.” Mathews advises investors to buy shares of tractor makers, carmakers and fertilizer companies.

The Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensitive Index, or Sensex, gained 51.08, or 0.3 percent, to 17,745.28. The gauge’s fifth-day advance is the longest stretch of gains since September. The S&P CNX Nifty Index on the National Stock Exchange rose 0.4 percent to 5,322.45. The BSE 200 Index increased 0.4 percent to 2,242.25.

Sales Boost

Sterlite jumped 6 percent to 842.6 rupees. Net income rose to 13.8 billion rupees ($311 million) in the three months ended March 31 from 5.98 billion rupees a year earlier, according to the company’s filing to the stock exchange. The median estimate of 23 analysts in a Bloomberg survey was for profit of 11.1 billion rupees. Sales climbed 64 percent.

Rising demand for steel to build air conditioners and cars is boosting sales of zinc, used to rust-proof the alloy. Sterlite, part of London-based Vedanta Resources Plc., owns India’s biggest zinc producer Hindustan Zinc Ltd., whose shares climbed 2.9 percent to 1,251 rupees.

HDFC Bank Ltd., the third-biggest lender, climbed 1.9 percent to 1,989.6 rupees, the highest level since its May 1995 listing. The bank’s fourth-quarter profit rose 33 percent to 8.36 billion rupees ($188 million) on increased lending in an improving economy. That compares with the 8.34 billion-rupee average of 21 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Seasonal Rains

Housing Development Finance Corp., the biggest mortgage lender, added 3.8 percent to 2,829.75 rupees, its steepest gain in two weeks.

Mahindra & Mahindra advanced 1.6 percent to 529.35 rupees. The India Meteorological Department’s April 23 forecast of normal monsoon rainfall matches predictions by two government officials on April 21.

The rain forecast may further ease inflationary expectations, the Reserve Bank of India’s Deputy Governor K.C. Chakrabarty said in Mumbai today. The pace of food-price increases accelerated to close to an 11-year high this year.

India overtook China as the world’s biggest palm oil buyer and became the largest sugar importer after last year’s weakest monsoon in more than three decades created shortages.

Jaiprakash Associates Ltd., a builder of dams, roads and bridges, gained 1.1 percent to 159.05 rupees, its highest since Jan. 19.

Reliance Industries Ltd., the nation’s most valuable company, fell 1.6 percent to 1,071.25 rupees after its fourth-quarter profit rose 30 percent to 47.1 billion rupees, less than the 51.4 billion rupees mean estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Fund Inflows

Central Bank Governor Duvvuri Subbarao last week estimated India’s $1.2 trillion economy, Asia’s largest after Japan and China, will expand 8 percent “with an upward bias” in the year ending March 31.

The rupee appreciated against the dollar for a third day on speculation foreign capital inflows may increase as seasonal rainfall boosts farm output that accounts for a fifth of the economy.

“Almost all factors are favorable for the rupee now because the economy is on a strong growth path, and a normal monsoon will strengthen the prospects further,” said Sudarshan Bhatt, chief foreign-exchange dealer at state-owned Corporation Bank in Mumbai. “The continuing foreign inflows into the stock market are just one indicator.”

Overseas investors bought a net 17.5 billion rupees of Indian stocks on April 22, taking their total purchases of the equities this year to 276.4 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:

Alembic Ltd. (ALBC IN) gained 3 percent to 51.05 rupees. Indian cricket’s governing body named the drugmaker’s chairman and managing director, Chirayu Amin, as the interim chairman of the Indian Premier League.

Apollo Tyres (APTY IN) climbed 1.1 percent to 74.2 rupees. India’s largest tire maker by value said the International Finance Corp. has agreed to provide $60 million of loans for a new tire factory it’s building.

Clariant Chemicals (India) Ltd. (CLRC IN) jumped 9.1 percent to 620.25 rupees, the highest since at least 1991. The unit of the world’s biggest maker of printing-ink chemicals said first-quarter profit rose 26 percent from a year earlier.

Nucleus Software Exports Ltd. (NCS IN), an exporter of software for finance companies, retreated 2.8 percent to 156.75 rupees, after reporting quarterly profit that fell 4.3 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Religare Enterprises (RELG IN) declined 2 percent to 430.5 rupees. The financial services company owned by billionaire Malvinder Singh plans to enter the health insurance business alone after dropping plans to partner with a foreign company, the Economic Times reported. Religare Managing Director Sunil Godhwani wasn’t immediately available at his office telephone for comment on the report.

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (SUNP IN), India biggest drugmaker by market value, sank 4.8 percent to 1,603.15 rupees, its steepest one-day drop in almost nine months. Pfizer Inc. can ask a U.S. district judge to order Sun to stop selling the drug until the patent expires in January after a U.S. federal jury ruled that Pfizer and Altana AG have valid patents for the heartburn drug Protonix.

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