Indian Stocks Decline Most in a Month as Bearish Bets Mount

  • Put contract trades on India’s Nifty Index Jump to 3-Week High
  • Metalmakers, banks lead decline with power companies

Indian shares declined the most in almost a month, as metal makers, power companies and banks dropped, pushing the benchmark index toward its 200-day moving average.

The Nifty fell 1 percent to 8,349.35. A rally in global commodities and raw materials eased this week before Donald Trump’s inauguration later Friday, with investors growing anxious for indications the administration will follow through on its campaign promises for economic growth.

Axis Bank Ltd. shares tumbled the most since October after India’s third-largest private sector lender posted its fourth straight drop in quarterly profit amid a surge in bad-loan provisions.  

Friday’s decline was the biggest since a 6.7 percent rally that began Dec. 26, after worries began dissipating that the government’s recall of 15 trillion rupees ($220 billion) of currency notes would hurt economic growth and corporate earnings.

Since late December, there’s been a net inflow of foreign funds into India’s market, after 21 straight days of outflows. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is preparing to unveil the nation’s annual budget on Feb. 1.

“The market is at the cusp of a big move in either direction,” Mahesh Varma, a derivatives strategist at Kim Eng Securities Pvt., said in a phone interview. “No one knows what’s going to happen next, with Trump taking charge today. Local quarterly earnings are not that good. Also, the budget is in the back of everyone’s mind. ”

Multiple options block trades of more than 1,000 each change hands, with the number of bearish contracts reaching almost 1.5 million compared to 1.3 million bullish wagers. The India VIX, a gauge of volatility expectations, rose 5.1 percent, about 60 percent higher than the Nifty’s realized volatility, the biggest premium since August.

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