Indian stocks rose to the highest level in three weeks as the US Federal Reserve boosting its economic assessment overshadowed faster-than-estimated growth in the nation's inflation rate.
ICICI Bank Ltd, the nation's largest non-state-run lender, jumped to its highest close since February 22, pacing a rally among its peers. Larsen & Toubro Ltd gained 2.6 per cent, extending a four-day winning streak. Infosys Ltd climbed for a second day.
The Sensex rose 0.6 per cent to 17,919.30 at close in Mumbai, its highest close since February 24. The gauge pared an intraday gain of 1.3 per cent after data showed the wholesale-price index climbed for the first time in five months in February, weakening the case for a reduction in funding costs.
"We have passed through the worst inflationary phase," Deven Choksey, managing director at Mumbai-based K.R. Choksey Shares & Securities, said by phone yesterday.
"The spurt in inflation was not unexpected. It may lead the RBI to postpone the rate cut. Inflation can't chain investors as they remain hopeful the budget will contain measures to stimulate growth."
The Sensex has climbed 16 per cent this year as foreigners poured a net $8 billion into local stocks amid optimism slowing inflation will prompt the central bank to lower interest rates.
Shares of Kalindee Rail Nirman (Engineers) Ltd, Texmaco Rail & Engineering Ltd and Kernex Microsystems (India) Ltd sank more than 5 per cent after the railway budget announcement yesterday.