Indian Stocks Gain for Fourth Day as Software, Drugmakers Rise

Indian stocks climbed, sending the benchmark index to a four-week high, as software exporters and drugmakers advanced.

Infosys Ltd. climbed for a fourth day, sending a gauge of technology companies to a four-week high. Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. rallied the most in two weeks after agreeing to settle New York state claims that it colluded with Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc. on generic-drug sales. Larsen & Toubro Ltd., the largest engineering company, advanced to its highest price in a month.

The S&P BSE Sensex increased 0.4 percent to 20,722.97 at the close in Mumbai. The measure has climbed every day this week after the government pledged to narrow the fiscal deficit to a seven-year low. Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram Feb. 17, while unveiling an interim budget before elections due by May, pared taxes for cars and consumer goods to stoke demand in an economy growing at the slowest pace in a decade.

“Containing current-account and fiscal deficits within reasonable limits is commendable,” Vibhav Kapoor, group chief investment officer at IL&FS Investmart Financial Services Ltd., said in an interview to Bloomberg TV India today. “Incentives given to autos and consumer goods will prove to be useful.”

Infosys gained 1.9 percent, the steepest gain in five weeks. Rivals Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. and Wipro Ltd. advanced 1.5 percent each. The nation’s three biggest software exporters are among the biggest gainers on the Sensex this year.

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., India’s most valuable drugmaker, rallied 2.2 percent to its highest price since Oct. 22. The stock is the best performer on the Sensex.

Ranbaxy jumped 3.2 percent. Larsen gained 1.4 percent and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. added 0.9 percent to 943.20 rupees. Adani Enterprises Ltd. jumped 7.2 percent, the most since Nov. 28. The stock lost 15 percent in 12 days through Feb. 14.

‘Critical Elections’

The Sensex has dropped 2.1 percent this year amid concern that the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s victories at state polls in December won’t give it enough momentum to win a parliamentary majority in the elections. A weak government will face a tougher time approving policy changes needed to revive growth and avoid a credit-rating downgrade to junk.

“The elections are make or break as far as the market and the economy is concerned, and hence more critical than polls we have seen in the last 10-15 years,” IL&FS Investmart’s Kapoor said. “The market is going to be range-bound until then.”

The CNX Nifty Index on the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. climbed 0.4 percent to 6,152.75.

Overseas investors bought a net $83.9 million of domestic shares on Feb. 17, the most since Jan. 16, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That pared the year’s outflow to $154 million.

The Sensex trades at 13.3 times estimated 12-month profits, compared with the average multiple of 14.4 over the past five years. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index is valued at 9.3 times, the data show.

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