India Stocks Cap Second Weekly Gain on Economy Outlook, Results

  • Sensex extends rally GDP data adds to monsoon forecast cheer
  • Citi raises gauge’s target 7%, citing an improving economy

Indian stocks advanced for a second week as metal producers and automakers climbed amid optimism the nation’s economic growth will accelerate.

Tata Motors Ltd. and Coal India Ltd. were the best performers on the S&P BSE Sensex this week. Hindalco Industries Ltd., an aluminum maker, capped its best week since October. Axis Bank Ltd. rose to a nine-month high. Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. were the biggest decliners on the gauge.

The Sensex closed unchanged for the day, capping the week with a 0.7 percent increase. Faster-than-anticipated economic growth, a recovery in company earnings and forecast for above-average rain after back-to-back droughts has boosted investor confidence in the nation’s $1.4 trillion stock market. The gains have sent the index’s 14-day relative strength index to 70, the highest level in a year and at the threshold that some investors see as a signal to sell.

“If the monsoon’s intensity is as predicted then there’s some more juice in the rally, else the market will level out here for some time," Raamdeo Agrawal, joint managing director at Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd., said in an interview in Mumbai.

Food Inflation

The prediction for above-normal downpour for the first time since 2013 is seen boosting prospects of farm production and easing an acute drinking water shortage. Central bank Governor Raghuram Rajan, who is due to review policy rates on Tuesday, said last month that expectations of plentiful rain will boost food output may help temper inflation after a jump in April. Rajan has cut the main rate by 150 basis points since the start of 2015 to a five-year low of 6.50 percent.

“A terrific monsoon will cool food prices and that will allow the RBI to act" on rates, Agrawal said. “This is more important than the rest of the global, macro stuff.”

The monsoon is key to sustain India’s world-beating economic growth, which accelerated a faster-than-estimated 7.9 percent in the March quarter. The data cemented the nation’s position as a bright spot among emerging markets as China slows while Russia and Brazil see contractions.

‘Trend Reversal’

Sixty-six percent of the companies in the NSE Nifty 50 index posted earnings in the March quarter that exceeded or matched estimates. This compares with 52 percent in the three months ended December, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Sales for Sensex companies rose 7 percent year-on-year after five straight quarters of declines, the data show.

“There’s been a major trend reversal because of the improvement in earnings, the monsoon forecast and the macro factors," Ashu Madan, chief operating officer at Religare Securities Ltd., said in an interview to Bloomberg TV India. “Majority of the trades in the past few months used to be hedged via a long-short portfolio. For the first time in months there are comforting signals that we’re moving up. It’s a buy-on-dips market.”

The Sensex has climbed 2.8 percent so far this year and is valued at 16.6 times 12-month projected earnings, compared with a multiple of 11.9 for an index of emerging markets.

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