Most Indian stocks gained after consumer prices climbed less than estimated, boosting the central bank’s scope to ease monetary policy next month.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. (MSIL), the nation’s largest carmaker, increased for the first time in three days. Hindalco Industries Ltd. (HNDL) and Sesa Sterlite Ltd., the largest aluminum and copper producers, were among the best performers on the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex. (SENSEX) Oil & Natural Gas Corp. led energy shares lower as crude prices fell to trade near $ 45 a barrel.

Three shares gained for every two that fell on the Sensex, which lost 0.1 percent to 27,554.89 at 11:22 a.m. in Mumbai after changing direction at least 10 times. The consumer-price index rose 5 percent in December from a year earlier, staying below the Reserve Bank of India’s target for a third month, data showed after the market closed yesterday. That was less than the 5.35 percent gain forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.

“With inflation remaining within containable levels, we are going to see monetary easing, which corporate India needs badly,” Medha Samant, Asian equities investment director at Fidelity Worldwide Investment, told Bloomberg TV today.

RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan maintained the benchmark rate for a fifth straight meeting on Dec. 2 after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley called for lower funding costs. Rajan said on the day that a change in monetary policy stance is likely in early 2015 should improvements in inflation health continue. The next policy review is due on Feb. 3.

India, which imports about 80 percent of its oil, has seen its inflation outlook weaken after Brent slid 48 percent last year, the most since 2008. West Texas Intermediate prices dropped 4.7 percent to $ 46.07 yesterday and Brent fell to $ 46.56 in London.

“The fundamentals are getting into place,” said Samant, adding that India offers a “standout” investment opportunity.

Maruti increased 1 percent to a record. Hindalco advanced 1.1 percent, while Sesa Sterlite added 0.6 percent.

Oil & Natural Gas lost 2 percent, while Gail India Ltd., the largest natural-gas supplier, fell 0.4 percent.

International investors sold a net $ 43 million of local shares on Jan. 9, extending the foreign outflow so far this year to $ 394.3 million. Overseas funds bought $ 16 billion of Indian stocks last year.

The Sensex has risen 0.3 percent this month and is valued at 15.2 times projected 12-month earnings, compared with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index’s multiple of 11.1.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rajhkumar K Shaaw in Mumbai at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Patterson at Ravil Shirodkar, Phani Varahabhotla