Mumbai: India's benchmark stock index rose, capping its biggest weekly advance since November, as data from the US added to signs the global economy is recovering and on optimism the Indian central bank would cut rates this month.
The S&P BSE Sensex added 1.4 per cent to 19,683.23, its highest close since February 4. The gauge increased four per cent this week. Jindal Steel & Power surged 5.7 per cent, the most since November 30. Housing Development Finance Corp. jumped four per cent, the most since May 24.
Stocks climbed this week on expectations global central banks will continue with stimulus measures, spurring inflows into emerging markets. On Thursday, the European Central Bank (ECB) held rates at a record low, the Bank of England left its four-year- old bond-purchase programme unchanged and data showed that jobless claims in the US fell. Foreigners have bought $8.7 billion worth of Indian shares this year, a record for the period, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
"Flows will continue to be strong for Indian equities," Harsha Upadhyaya, head of equities at Kotak Mahindra Mutual Fund, told Bloomberg TV India. Local "investors are building in the possibility of gradual interest-rate cuts," he said.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) meets for its next policy review on March 19. The authority cut its benchmark rate by 25 basis points to 7.75 per cent on January 29, the first reduction in nine months. That's still the highest among major Asian nations.
Jindal Steel rallied 5.7 per cent to Rs367.20, the top gainer on the Sensex yesterday. The stock plunged 22 per cent in the previous two months. HDFC, India's largest mortgage lender, jumped four per cent to Rs813.25, the most since May 24. It retreated 10 per cent in the past three months.
"Positive US data and the Federal Reserve's recent assurance over monetary policy have led to an increase in investors' risk appetite," Nidhi Sarswat, a senior research analyst at Bonanza Portfolio, wrote in note on Thursday.
The Sensex fell for five straight weeks through March 1, reaching a three-month low on February 28, as profits at companies from Tata Motors to State Bank of India trailed estimates for the December quarter and the pace of the economic growth slowed.
India's economy grew 4.5 per cent from a year ago in the final three months of 2012, the weakest pace in four years, government data showed.