Mumbai: Indian shares increased 0.9% on Thursday, marking a positive start to the new quarter, as solid gains in global equities helped them register their eighth straight weekly rise.
Export-oriented software companies topped the gainers’ chart on expectations of improving demand outlook.
The 30-share BSE Index closed up 0.94% or 164.85 points, at 17,692.62 points, taking gains in the holiday-shortened week to nearly 0.3%. The 50-share NSE index was up 0.8% at 5,290.50 points.
Twenty three of its components closed in the green.
The benchmark had gained 0.4% in the March quarter, its fifth straight quarterly rise.
“All in all, the scenario looks good from here,” said K. K. Mital, head of portfolio management services at Globe Capital.
“Expectations of robust earnings, good infra spend by government, continuous flows from foreigners all point to good times,” Mital added.
He expects Sensex to be around the 18,000 level by the end of the current quarter and sees it at 19,500 at the end of 2010.
Five of the nine respondents to a Reuters Asset Allocation Poll said Sensex could rise further in the next three months.
Foreign funds have poured in around $4.4 billion in Indian stocks this year, most of which came in March when they were consistent buyers.
Companies start reporting their fourth-quarter earnings later this month, with Infosys Technologies kick starting the earnings parade from 13 April.
“We will have to look how margins fare as higher costs may exert some pressure there,” added Mital.
Investors shrugged off a slowdown in manufacturing growth in India for the month of March.
The HSBC Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index, based on a survey of 500 companies, fell to 57.8 in March from 58.5 in February, which was the strongest since June 2008. A reading above 50 means activity is expanding.
IT bellwether Infosys Technologies rose 2.2%, while rivals Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro gained 3.5% and 2% respectively.
Energy major Reliance Industries, which has the highest weight on the Sensex, rose 1.8% to Rs1,093.65.
Auto shares ended mixed, as higher March vehicle sales numbers were overshadowed by a hike in fuel prices.
Late on Wednesday, a government official said India will raise the prices of petrol by 1.1 percent in major cities that will migrate to Euro IV-compliant fuel.
Top carmaker Maruti Suzuki shed 1.8% despite registering 11 percent increase in March sales, and top utility vehicle maker Mahindra and Mahindra dropped 2.1% even as its monthly sales climbed 20%.
Top vehicle maker Tata Motors bucked the trend and raced 2.7% ahead.
Top mobile operator Bharti Airtel declined 3.1% to Rs302.15.
“(Bharti’s) January-March quarter results are not likely to be impressive,” said Harit Shah, a research analyst with Karvy Stock Broking.
“Also, the balance sheet is likely to be under pressure due to the Zain deal and the upcoming 3G auction,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Kuwaiti mobile operator Zain swung to a fourth-quarter loss of 0.7 million dinars, according to Reuters calculations, compared with a net profit of 86.83 million dinars a year earlier.
In the broader market, gainers were more than thrice the number of losers while 443 million shares changed hands on the BSE, higher than that on Wednesday.
Indian markets will be shut on Friday for a public holiday.