Indian stocks dropped, paring a quarterly gain, as factory orders in the US missed estimates and as a weakening rupee raised concerns the Reserve Bank of India may not cut interest rates as aggressively as expected.
Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., the nation's largest software services exporter, paced a decline among its peers. Bharti Airtel Ltd., the biggest mobile-phone operator, fell 2 per cent. Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd., the biggest power- equipment maker, dropped for a fourth day.
The BSE India Sensitive Index, or Sensex, retreated 0.2 per cent to 17058.61 in Mumbai. The gauge has jumped 10 per cent this year, poised for the first quarterly gain since the three months ended Dec-ember 2010.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell after a US report showed factory bookings for goods meant to last at least three years advanced 2.2 per cent in February, less than projected. The rupee slid the most in a week on speculation importers stepped up dollar purchases to settle bills ahead of the March 31 fin-ancial-year end. A weaker rupee boosts import costs for a nation that buys 80 per cent of its oil overseas, threatening to accelerate inflation and limit the central bank's scope to cut borrowing costs.
"We were expecting rate cuts to happen deeper and sharper, and now with the fiscal deficit being where it is, the expectations have moderated," Mahesh Patil, who oversees $12 billion as co-chief investment officer at Birla Sun Life Asset Management Co., India's fourth-biggest money manager, said in an interview with Bloomberg UTV today. "Given the current environment, the domestic macros and global, one would be cautious."
The central bank raised rates a record 13 times to 8.5 per cent from March 2010 to October last year in an attempt to restrain price rises. The authority pared the cash reserve ratio by 75 basis points to 4.75 per cent on March 9, the lowest since 2004, and indicated it would cut interest rates once it was confident inflation is slowing.
Overseas investors bought a net Rs789 million (60 million) of Indian stocks on March 27, raising their investment in the equities this year to Rs450 billion.