Turning bullish: FPIs express renewed interest in corp bonds

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Mumbai | Updated: March 23, 2018 6:05:37 AM

Foreign portfolio investors (FPI) seem to have turned bullish on Indian corporate bonds after a period of uncertainty in early March, when the limits were auctioned at a very timid price.

Foreign portfolio investors, Indian corporate bonds, Edelweiss Financial Services, corporate bondsThe highest rate that FPIs were willing to pay also rose to 3.51 basis points compared with the 2 basis points seen last time. (Reuters)

Foreign portfolio investors (FPI) seem to have turned bullish on Indian corporate bonds after a period of uncertainty in early March, when the limits were auctioned at a very timid price. Against a notified amount of Rs 11,796 crore, FPIs put in bids worth Rs 13,774 crore during Thursday’s auction. In the previous auction conducted on March 5, FPIs had put in bids worth Rs 12,161 crore against a notified amount of Rs 10,789 crore. The early-March auction had seen the cut-off bids come in at a meagre 0.0081 bps — indicating that the limits were auctioned at a low rate. Compared with this, the lowest bid came in at 2 basis points this time, showing renewed FPI interest in the corporate debt segment.

The highest rate that FPIs were willing to pay also rose to 3.51 basis points compared with the 2 basis points seen last time. Ajay Manglunia, EVP, Edelweiss Financial Services, observes that the way FPI auction numbers stand, it seems some optimism is coming back to the markets. “The uncertainty that was prevailing in the most part of the fourth quarter seems to have faded a bit.

Yields are cooling because of increased liquidity in the market and this could possibly lead to increased FPI buying in bonds going ahead. The renewed sentiment is clearly visible in the cut-off bids in Thursday’s auction, which are way higher than seen last time,” he said. The number of bidders, however, fell to 54 this time from 58 in the previous round. Auctions are conducted when investment limits get freed up either due to redemption or sales in the market.

Latest depository data shows that open category FPIs have utilised 94.76% of the permitted quota of Rs 2.25 lakh crore in corporate bonds. FPIs had turned net sellers of Indian bonds in the first half of the month. However, over the last three sessions, foreign investors have bought over $320 million on a net basis, according to depository data. On a year-to-date basis, however, FPIs still remain net sellers of bonds at $84.40 million.

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