Indian stocks rose to a five-week high yesterday amid optimism the central bank will reduce interest rates to revive economic growth after the nation’s industrial output climbed less than estimated in April.
The BSE India Sensitive Index, or Sensex, advanced 1.2% to 16,862.80 at close, its highest level since May 7. The gauge rallied 4.7% last week, capping this year’s best weekly increase. Factory output rose 0.1%, missing economists’ estimates for a 1.7% climb, government data showed yesterday, a day after Standard & Poor’s warned the nation may lose its investment-grade rating.
“Given the way the market has rallied in the last several days the expectation is being built for a reasonably aggressive move on interest rates,” Ravi Gopalakrishnan, chief investment officer for equities at Pramerica Asset Managers, the Indian unit of Prudential Financial Inc, said by phone from Mumbai. Prudential manages $943bn in assets globally. “We expect a measured approach from the central bank as it would not like to exhaust all its ammunition given the global crisis.”
The Reserve Bank of India reviews monetary policy on June 18, with pressure building to cut borrowing costs for a second time in 2012 even as inflation exceeds 7%. Growth in the first quarter was the slowest in nine years, prompting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to last week pledge investments into infrastructure projects.
S&P said on Monday India could become the first BRIC nation to lose its investment-grade rating as a discord among the ruling coalition stymies Singh’s efforts to revive economic expansion.
“We’re probably closer to a bottom because the interest rate cycle has reversed and the government is taking some steps to prop the investment cycle,” Gopalakrishnan said. “If one believes that the pain is there for another quarter followed by a recovery then this is a good time to enter.”
The Reserve Bank of India may cut its benchmark interest rate to 7.75% from 8% when it reviews policy on June 18, according to the median estimate of 15 analysts in a Bloomberg survey. The authority may leave the cash reserve ratio for banks unchanged at 4.75%, analysts forecast.
The rupee dropped to the lowest level in more than a week as a report showed that factory output rose less than estimated in April.
“This week’s data releases will further drive home the dilemma confronting policy makers,” Leong Sook Mei, the Singapore-based regional head of global currency research at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, wrote in a report yesterday. “The rupee looks vulnerable again.”
The rupee declined 0.2% to 55.815 per dollar in Mumbai, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It touched 56.075 earlier, the weakest level since June 1. from gulf times.