India shares rise to record on foreign fund inflows; Reliance Industries leads
MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Indian shares rose to a record on Wednesday, extending gains for a second straight day, as sustained foreign fund inflows drove index heavyweights such as Reliance Industries.
The BSE Sensex index rose 0.2%, or 64.02 points, to 29,974.24, after breaching the psychological 30,000 level earlier in the day for the first time since March 2015. The broader NSE Nifty 50 index gained 0.3%, or 27.30 points, at 9,265.15.
Reliance Industries, India's biggest private company by sales, led the gains, advancing 3.2% to 1,414.90 rupees and adding to the 10.1% surge in the four previous days. The stock has advanced amid optimism that Reliance's telecom business would contribute to profits earlier than anticipated.
"The market has been riding on factors such as the strengthened position of the Narendra Modi-government after the state elections," said Kunj Bansal, executive director and chief investment officer of equity at Centrum Broking. "Improved macroeconomic numbers such as the sharp reduction in current account deficit are resulting in a lot of funds flowing into Indian equity - both from domestic and global institutions."
Foreign portfolio investors have purchased a record net $5.23 billion in local stocks last month, the biggest monthly inflows ever, according to National Securities Depository Ltd.'s data going back to 2002. Investors are betting on more economic reforms after Prime Minister Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party secured a big victory in the Uttar Pradesh state election last month, boosting his chances to get a second five-year term in the national vote due mid-2019.
Seventeen of the 30 Sensex constituents ended higher, while overall advancing issues beat declining ones 1,987 to 936 and 149 stocks were unchanged.
India's Monetary Policy Committee started its two-day meeting on Wednesday. Economists widely expect the MPC to stand pat on the main lending rate amid concerns that inflation may quicken in coming months. The rate decision is expected around 9:00 GMT on Thursday.
The MPC had kept interest rates unchanged in its meeting in February, citing inflation risks.
Maruti Suzuki India, the nation's largest carmaker, rose 4.4% to 6,339.40 rupees after total sales in March rose 8.1%.
Larsen & Toubro, India's biggest engineering and construction company, advanced 2.2% to 1,696.85 rupees, aided by robust order inflows in the quarter ended in March. The company announced order inflows of 273 billion rupees in its core engineering and construction business in the fourth-quarter of the last financial year, up 74% from a year-earlier period, Kotak Institutional Equities said in a note.
Banks and finance companies ended mixed ahead of the MPC rate decision. State Bank of India rose 1.2% to 296.70 rupees, while top private lender ICICI Bank finished 0.7% lower at 284.85 rupees.
Mortgage-lender Housing Development Finance Corp. was the top loser, ending down 2.8% at 1,490.05 rupees.
Software exporter Infosys fell 1.4% to 995.40 rupees amid concerns related to issuance of H-1B visas by the U.S., the largest market for Indian information technology companies.
In rest of Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.3% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended 0.6% higher. China's Shanghai Composite index gained 1.5% while South Korea's Kospi index ended little changed.
--Dhanya Ann Thoppil