India’s benchmark stock-index declined to a one-month low, led by banks and drugmakers, as foreigners sold local shares for a fifth day amid a plunge in global markets.
State Bank of India fell for a fifth day, poised for the longest run of losses since August. Hindalco Industries Ltd. (HNDL), the nation’s second-biggest aluminum maker, was the top loser on the S&P BSE Sensex. (SENSEX) Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (SUNP), the largest drugmaker, tumbled the most in two months.
The Sensex lost 0.3 percent to 26,703.43 at 11:51 a.m. in Mumbai, after falling the most since July yesterday. Foreigners pulled $ 334 million from local shares in five days through Dec. 15 as the selloff in global equities cools demand for riskier assets. The withdrawal comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push to woo more foreign investment to the insurance industry, revamp coal mining and overhaul taxes is being delayed by a disruption in the upper house of parliament.
“There’s been an overwhelming negative change worldwide and in India, economic reforms have been very underwhelming,” Madhav Dhar, managing partner of U.S.-based GTI Capital Group, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV India today. “When you have a combination of those countervailing forces with extended prices, people get impatient and sell.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 0.2 percent, trading near lowest level since Oct. 17, before the U.S. Federal Reserve ends a two-day meeting on monetary policy today. Economists predict that Russia’s currency crisis and plunging oil prices won’t stop the Fed’s policy makers from dropping a vow to keep interest rates low for a “considerable time.”
“Markets are expecting the Fed might review its stance on keeping rates near zero for a ‘considerable’ time,” Rakesh Goyal, senior vice president at Bonanza PortfolioLtd., wrote in an e-mail yesterday. “We expect Indian markets to remain volatile for the upcoming two sessions.”
The CNX Nifty Index (NIFTY) dropped 0.6 percent, headed for the lowest level since Oct. 27. The India VIX Index, a measure of protection against stock market swings, climbed 11 percent to 18.1, poised for the highest level since July 9.
Proceedings in the upper house of parliament have been repeatedly adjourned in the past two days as opposition parties called on hardline Hindu groups allied to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party to stop forced religious conversions. The groups denied the claims, saying Christians and Muslims are freely choosing India’s dominant religion.
Modi lacks an upper house majority and needs opposition support to enact legislation, with the ongoing session due to end on Dec. 23. Pressure on the government to boost economic outlook is mounting after growth slowed last year.
The Sensex has rallied 26 percent this year, on course for its best annual gain since 2009. The gauge is valued at 14.6 times projected 12-month earnings, the cheapest since May. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index trades at a multiple of 10.6.
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