Indian Stocks Climb to 7-Month High as Banks Rise After RBI Meet

RBI to Stay Accommodative on Inflation Uncertainties
  • Governor Rajan says monetary policy to say accommodative
  • Fed Chair comments easy global anxiety around June rate hike

Indian stocks rose to a seven-month high, led by lenders, after the central bank said its monetary policy will remain accommodative even as it left borrowing costs unchanged.

ICICI Bank Ltd. and State Bank of India were the top performers on the S&P BSE Sensex. Hindustan Unilever Ltd., the biggest home-products maker, rallied to more than a one-month high, and cigarette maker ITC Ltd. climbed to a 15-month high. Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. ended a six-day losing streak.

The Sensex rose 0.9 percent at the close to reclaim the 27,000 level for the first time since end-October. Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan kept the benchmark rate at a five-year low of 6.5 percent and said the central bank remains willing to lower borrowing costs as long as conditions allow. The move comes after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said gradual rate increases are appropriate, diminishing the odds of a move this month or in July.

“The Fed hike is not likely to happen before September, and the Reserve Bank of India has indicated that its policy will continue to be accommodative,” said Nikhil Johri, chief investment officer at Trivantage Capital Management India Pvt. in Mumbai. “There are no negatives right now.” He’s bullish on state-run banks because of their valuations.

Indian equities mirrored gains in emerging-market stocks, which rallied for a fourth day as a surge in commodities boosted the outlook for exporting nations and as odds of a U.S. rate increase by July fell to 22 percent from more than 50 percent a week ago.

Rally Resumes

Forecasts for the strongest monsoon in two decades and a recovery in company earnings after declines in four of the past five quarters helped the Sensex cap its second week of gains rally on Friday. The gauge dropped 0.2 percent on Monday before the policy review.

“Earnings have bottomed out and that has boosted sentiments,” said Chokkalingam G., managing director at Equinomics Research & Advisory Pvt. in Mumbai. “Plus, the outlook on the monsoon is positive. The market, which had paused for a couple of days due to the RBI policy, began rallying again after the policy uncertainty lifted."

Fitch Pitch

ICICI Bank surged 4.3 percent to its highest price since April 26 and State Bank rallied 5.6 percent to its highest level since Jan. 6, sending a gauge of 10 lenders to its highest level since Aug. 21.

Lenders rallied after the government said Tuesday it had pitched for a ratings upgrade with Fitch Ratings, according to Trivantage’s Johri. Fitch in December affirmed India’s BBB rating with a stable outlook. The nation is rated at the lowest investment grade by Fitch and rivals Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings.

“State Bank and many other banks raise substantial borrowings from the dollar-bond market, and a ratings upgrade happens the banks’ costs of raising money from offshore markets will come down,” he said.

Hindustan Unilever climbed to its highest level since April 21. Sun Pharmaceutical added 2 percent, ending a six-day, 12 percent drop. ITC advanced 2.2 percent.

Foreign investors bought a net $9.7 million of local stocks on Monday, taking this year’s inflows to $2.6 billion. The Sensex has risen 3.4 percent this year and is valued at 16.7 times 12-month projected profits.

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