Record Indian stock market rally masks economic concerns

Dec 06 2013, 15:12 IST
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Market has been lifted by just a handful of stocks of exporters reaping the benefits of a slump in the rupee. Market has been lifted by just a handful of stocks of exporters reaping the benefits of a slump in the rupee.
SummarySensex has been fuelled almost exclusively by TCS & Sun Pharma, which are up close to 60% this year.

effect, the BSE index is Asia's fourth-worst performer in dollar terms, having fallen 3.9 percent since the start of the year.

Just 10 stocks in the 30-member Sensex have outperformed the index itself this year and the six top risers are all exporters.

HAS THE MARKET PEAKED?

Anusha Mannick, a fund manager at Rogers Capital in Mauritius, said investors like her have been attracted by relatively low valuations and a weak rupee that made shares relatively cheap.

Thomson Reuters Streetsight data shows Mannick's fund emphasised investment in pharmaceutical companies, including drug makers Strides Arcolab Ltd, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd and IPCA Laboratories Ltd.

Further signs of improvement in the U.S. economy, such as a pick up in the jobs market seen in data this week, could spark more gains for exporters.

But some investors worry the upside potential for India is now waning after such a strong run up. Both Tata Consultancy and Sun Pharma hit record highs in October, but have each fallen around 12 percent since.

Other markets may also start to look attractive.

The MSCI India IT sub-index trades at 21 times earnings forecasts for the year ahead, well above the 12 times for the equivalent index for Asia-Pacific countries outside of Japan and 18.4 globally .

The MSCI health care sub-index, which includes pharmaceutical companies, is starting to look similarly stretched.

Another factor that could weigh on Indian stocks is a reduction in the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary stimulus.

Fed tapering fears earlier this year hit India badly, with overseas investors selling a net $3.7 billion of shares from June through August.

"I think we will see funds moving out of emerging markets like India to the developed world on Fed tapering," said Mannick, of Rogers Capital.

"I think export-based stocks gaining on just a lower rupee would not play for long, so therefore there would be some profit booking," she said.

THE INDIA STORY

Having made a record $11.7 billion in net sales between January and November, domestic investors are showing little inclination to take up any slack if foreign money pulls out.

A lack of fresh economic reforms to drive fixed-asset investment has weighed on India's economy for two years. In the fiscal year to March 2013, growth dropped to just 5 percent, its lowest pace in a decade and is expected to slow further in the current fiscal year.

Shares of companies tied to India's domestic economy have tumbled this year, some quite badly

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