Mumbai: Indian shares gained 0.8% on Thursday to their highest close in nearly 2-years, tracking European markets which reversed early losses as banks in the continent gained ahead of their stress test results.
Investor focus remains on the results of the European banks’ financial strength due on Friday. For stories on the stress tests.
Indian market had opened lower, after US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke on Wednesday painted a gloomy outlook for the US economy. Bernanke said the Fed stood ready to ease monetary policy further if the budding US economy recovery withers, describing the outlook as “unusually uncertain”.
Cigarette-to-hotel business ITC topped the gains and climbed 1.6% to 297.60 rupees, after it said its June quarter net profit rose 22%.
Financials shrugged off worries over a likely rate hike at the central bank’s monetary policy review on Tuesday and marched ahead on expectations of robust economic growth which would spur loan demand.
A majority of economists expect the Reserve Bank of India to raise key interest rates by 25 basis points in its quarterly review on 27 July and tighten policy further in coming quarters, a new Reuters poll showed earlier this week.
Top lender State Bank of India gained 1.8% while leading private-sector lenders ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank climbed 0.7% and 1.1% respectively.
The 30-share BSE index closed 0.76% or 135.92 points higher at 18,113.15, its best close since February 2008. Twenty-five of its components advanced.
In the broader market, gainers outpaced declining shares in the ratio of 1.1:1 in a relatively lower volume of 374 million shares.
So far in 2010, foreign funds have invested a net of $8.8 billion in Indian shares, driving the benchmark up 3.7%.
“Mood in Europe improved after good UK retail sales data. Also, there are expectations being built that the European banks’ stress test results will not be a big issue,” said Anish Marfatia, head of sales - trading at Avendus Securities.
The 50-share NSE index, or Nifty, rose 0.8% to 5,441.95 points.
“If global cues turn better, Nifty has the leeway to rise to 5,550 points,” Marfatia said.
For the month to date, the BSE index rose 2.3% but it has underperformed MSCI’s index of Asia ex-Japan shares and emerging markets index which have climbed 4.2% and 6.1% respectively.
Oil and Natural Gas Corp rose 0.6% after Oil Minister Murli Deora told Reuters the state-run explorer and PetroVietnam are considering a joint bid for BP’s stake in an offshore Vietnam gas field.
Bajaj Auto, India’s second-largest motorcycle maker, raced 3.2% as it met forecasts with a doubling in quarterly profit and analysts expect margins to improve on rising sales and lower wage-related expenses.
The stock is only 1.4% away from its all-time high.
ACC, 46%-owned by Switzerland’s Holcim, dropped 1.1% as the country’s No. 2 cement producer said its June quarter net profit declined by 26%.
Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, India’s No. 2 drugmaker by sales, fell 1.7% after its consolidated quarterly profit dipped a more-than-expected 14.3% following a drop in sales in its key US market.
Mobile operator Idea Cellular rose 1.1% ahead of its earnings announcement. After the session ended, Idea said its June-quarter net profit dipped 32%.
Third-largest software exporter Wipro closed 0.1% ahead of its quarterly earnings expected before market hours on Friday.
At 4:12pm, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top shares was up 1.4% while Asian shares other than Japan were trading barely changed.
United Breweries jumped 20% to Rs282.80 after the top beer maker said late Wednesday its net profit soared to Rs761.30 million in June quarter, compared with 355 million rupees a year ago.
Software services firm Mastek tumbled 8.1% to Rs271.45 after it posted a net loss of Rs13 million in the June quarter, weighed down by forex losses and higher costs.
State-run Power Grid Corp rose 1.6% to Rs101.45 after India’s cabinet approved a proposal for a 20% share sale in the country’s central transmission utility.
Non-ferrous metals producer Sterlite Industries rose 1.6% to Rs176 as copper prices hit a near two-month high.