India Insight

Markets this quarter: Sensex gains 5.7 percent, L&T surges 19 percent

By Aditya Kalra and Sankalp Phartiyal

Indian shares posted record highs in March as strong foreign buying sent blue-chip stocks such as Larsen & Toubro higher and boosted overall investor sentiment ahead of a general election.

Provisional data showed foreign investors bought shares worth more than $3 billion in March, pushing the BSE Sensex to a life high of 22,467.21 points on the last trading day of the quarter. While the index rose 6 percent during the month, it rose 5.7 percent in the Jan-March period.

Markets rallied on hopes that the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, perceived to be more business -friendly, would emerge as a winner in the general election, while hopes of a recovery in the domestic economy also aided sentiment.

The rupee also gained during the period and posted its best quarter since Sept. 2012. In March, the Indian unit also breached the 60/dollar mark for the first time in eight months.

Market participants would focus on the Reserve Bank of India monetary policy review on Tuesday, in which the central bank is expected to keep its key interest rate steady at 8 percent. February wholesale price inflation has slowed to below 5 percent and retail price rises have eased to a 25-month low.

Reliance Industries posts biggest single-day gain since Sept 2012

Reliance Industries, India’s third-biggest company by market capitalization, surged more than 5 percent on Monday, after the conglomerate and its partners said on Friday they had made a significant gas discovery in the KG-D6 block.

Niko, the Canadian oil and natural gas producer which partners with Reliance and BP, said the discovery is expected to add to gas resources in the block without revealing potential reserves.

The blue-chip stock ended with gains of 5.3 percent at 828.30 rupees, posting its biggest single-day percentage gain since Sept 14, 2012. The stock, however, is still down around 13 percent from its 2013 high hit on Jan 21.

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