Skittish investors rush to take risk off the table for fear rising oil prices would hurt India’s macro-economics.
Stocks tumbled on Monday as skittish investors rushed to take risk off the table for fear rising crude oil prices would hurt India’s macro-economics at a time when growth is crawling. The rupee fell all the way to 69.87 against the dollar before closing at a two-week low of 69.67, a loss of 31 paise. Virtually, every sectoral gauge save for the IT index ended in the red; the Bank Nifty, in particular, plunged 535 points. Brent crude prices went past $74 a barrel, the highest since November after the US clamped down on exports of Iranian oil.
Reuters reported the US on Monday said it will eliminate in May all waivers granted to eight economies, allowing them to buy Iranian oil without facing US sanctions, as it ratcheted up pressure to choke off all oil revenues of the Islamic Republic. The decision, taken by President Donald Trump, has sent oil prices to its highest in 2019, even though the White House said the US was working with top Opec exporter Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure the oil market is “adequately supplied”, the agency reported.
While most economists were hoping the balance of payments would return to a surplus in 2019-20, the reversal in oil prices comes as a rude shock especially since it could stoke inflation. Indeed, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor had cautioned the rise in oil prices should not be taken lightly.
On Monday, the Sensex lost 1.26 % or 496 points to close at 38,645.18, while the broader Nifty ended 1.35% lower at 11,594.45. The market sentiment was also dented by the weak results reported by Reliance Industries; the Street chose to stay cautious ahead of results from other heavyweights given the trend so far has been somewhat mixed. India remains one of the most expensive markets in the world.
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At 38,645.18, the benchmark Sensex trades at a price-earnings(PE) multiple of 18.6 times to the estimated one-year forward earnings, a premium of 11.2% to the long-term average PE of 16.7 times. This compares with 11.4 times for the Kospi and 15.1 for the Jakarta Composite. Brazil’s Bovespa and the Shanghai Composite are trading at a price-earnings multiple of 11.04 and 11.7, respectively, data from Bloomberg show. Much of the rally in stocks in 2019—albeit an extremely narrow one driven by about half a dozen stocks—has been fuelled by FPI (foreign Portfolio Investors) buying. FPIs have picked up stocks worth nearly $7.8 billion so far in 2019.