Most Indian stocks dropped, paring the weekly advance on the benchmark index amid concern the recent rally may have been overdone. Larsen & Toubro Ltd, the nation's largest engineering company, declined for the first time in four days, paring its weekly gain to 6.4 per cent. Indian stocks may lag behind broader regional gains of as much as 30 per cent in the next 12-18 months as oil price rises, according to Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc. Jaiprakash Associates Ltd, a builder of roads and bridges, slid 2.2 per cent. The Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index, or Sensex, was little changed at 18,486.45 at the 3:30pm close in Mumbai.
Sixteen stocks dropped and 13 gained on the measure. The gauge climbed 4.4 per cent last week, the most since the five days ended November 5. The S&P CNX Nifty Index on the National Stock Exchange rose 0.1 per cent to 5,538.75, while its April futures settled at 5,568. The BSE 200 Index increased 0.1 per cent to 2,266.33. "Investor sentiment has improved due to the positive announcement in the budget on fiscal deficit, lower government borrowings and other economic reforms," Kislay Kanth, head of research at Mape Securities Pvt, said by phone in Mumbai. "The rally is not going to continue at the same pace in the short term, though the long term looks good. The concern over inflation and oil prices due to the Middle East crisis is not fully over yet."
The Sensex has lost 9.9 per cent this year, the worst performer in Asia among benchmark indexes tracked by Bloomberg, as India's central bank raised interest rates to stem inflation worsened by a rally in the price of oil. Sensex companies trade at an average 17.3 times estimated profit, down from a high of about 21 times a year ago, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Larsen & Toubro decreased 3.2 per cent to Rs1,610.8, while its April futures settled at Rs1,630. Jaiprakash Associates slid 2.2 per cent to Rs84.05. The bank is "cautious" of the government's pledge to narrow its budget deficit to 4.6 percent of gross domestic product in the year to March 2012, Emil Wolter, Asian equities strategist at RBS, said in Mumbai today.
India will narrow its budget deficit to 4.6 per cent of gross domestic product in the year to March 2012, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in his annual budget speech to parliament on February 28. Spending on roads, ports and other large projects will be increased by 23 per cent in the year, he said. Emerging-market stock mutual funds had their sixth straight week of outflows, Citigroup Inc said, citing data from research firm EPFR Global. Redemptions of $2.5 billion in the week ended March 2 quickened from $1.9 billion a week earlier, according to a report by Markus Rosgen, a Hong Kong-based Citigroup strategist. Tata Power Co, the biggest electricity generator outside state control, rose 2.7 per cent to Rs1,224.1. The company's debt is viewed by traders as the safest in four months after purchases of Indonesian mine stakes increased its control over coal prices.
Traders are paying 299 basis points annually to insure Tata Power's debt, down from 641 basis points on November 23.