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Business

Markets jubilant after Congress landslide

©

Video by Nicolas RUSWORTH , KARINA CHABOUR

Latest update : 2009-05-18

Trade in Indian shares had to be suspended Monday after they jumped by nearly 15 percent as stocks celebrated a clear victory for the Congress-led alliance. Analysts hope the election's outcome will pave the way for vital economic reforms.

REUTERS - India's main stock market leapt nearly 15 percent on Monday, triggering a temporary trading halt, after the ruling coalition sealed a decisive election victory that calmed fears of political uncertainty.

 

The rupee climbed more than 2 percent to four-month highs against the dollar and benchmark bond yields fell as the win boosted hopes a strong coalition would be able to push through economic reforms that would boost foreign investment.

 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's coalition defied predictions of a tight election result and was only about 11 seats short of an outright majority following the vote count.

 

A strong coalition, free of the pressures from its former communist partners, has boosted the prospect of reforms to encourage growth in Asia's third-largest economy.

 

"We believe the election verdict could be game changing for India, as it enhances the scope for significant medium- and longer-term reforms that will boost the sustainable growth," said Rajeev Malik, Singapore-based economist at Macquarie Securities.

 

"This, combined with the ongoing improvements in the Indian economy, will be highly positive for the economic outlook," he said.

 

The 30-share BSE index jumped 14.7 percent to 13,963.30 points, breaching a 10 percent circuit and triggering a trading halt. The 50-share NSE index jumped 14.5 percent to 4,203.30..

 

A Bombay Stock Exchange spokesman said trading would resume at 11:55 a.m. (0625 GMT) after a two-hour break.

 

Morgan Stanley said the BSE index could rise another 10 percent by the end of the year because Indian companies would benefit from the election victory. It raised its end-2009 target for the index to 15,300 points.

 

"We, now believe, that there is greater probability of our bull case rather than our bear case," analysts Ridham Desai and Sheela Rathi wrote in a note.

 

Macquarie said its top picks were leading mobile operator Bharti Airtel, state-run energy equipment maker Bharat Heavy Electricals, mortgage firm Housing Development Finance Corp, diversified Grasim Industries and engineering conglomerate Larsen and Toubro.

 

These companies had risen between 10 percent and 20 percent by the time the trading halt was called, Reuters data shows.

 

RUPEE SOARS

 

The rupee has benefited from a revival in foreign investment into the stock market. Foreign funds have been net buyers of about $4 billion of shares since mid-March.

 

At 10:43 a.m. (0513 GMT), the partially convertible rupee was at 48.31/32 against the dollar, 2.3 percent above Friday's close of 49.41/42.

 

It rose as high as 48.24, up 8.2 percent from a lifetime low of 52.20 in March and up 1 percent this year. Macquarie's Malik said he expected the rupee to reach 46 by next March.

 

In 2008, the rupee fell 19 percent in its biggest yearly fall since a balance of payments crisis in the early 1990s as the global financial crisis triggered capital outflows.

 

The benchmark 10-year bond yield fell 22 basis points to a two-week low. It was later trading at 6.27 percent, below Friday's close of 6.42 percent.

 

The election victory has raised expectations the government could sell stakes in state-run firms to help fund a widening fiscal deficit and ease the pressure on market borrowing.

 

At its low, the 10-year yield had fallen 117 basis points from a high of 7.37 percent hit in March when government borrowing worries peaked. It is up 95 basis points from the end of 2008.

 

In its interim budget in February, the government announced a record borrowing of 3.62 trillion rupees ($75 billion) for 2009/10. A revised budget is due by the end of June. ($1=48.3 rupees)
 

Date created : 2009-05-18

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