Mumbai: India’s main stock index climbed 1.6% on Monday to its highest close in 14 months, led by energy giant Reliance Industries, but traders said speedier reforms would be key to more gains.
Bharti Airtel initially rallied 1.7% after the leading telecom firm said it had extended merger talks with South Africa’s MTN by a month till 31 August. The stock later pulled back to end up 0.1% at Rs411.10 on concern it may have to sweeten its offer for a deal.
Auto stocks such as Maruti Suzuki, India’s top carmaker, and utility vehicles and tractors leader Mahindra & Mahindra were among the big gainers after posting robust July sales.
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Traders said the market picked up steam after European markets rose to a new high this year on encouraging news from banks.
Growth in India’s manufacturing activity held steady in July amid robust local demand, but intense competition curbed companies’ pricing power even as raw material costs jumped, a survey showed.
The 30-share BSE index rose 1.62%, or 253.92 points, to 15,924.23, with 26 components gaining, its best closing since 3 June 2008.
“Technically we have broken resistances ... now there has to be some fresh impetus for buying to take it to the next level,” said Arun Kejriwal, director with research firm KRIS.
The benchmark has gained more than 17.5% over the past three weeks, helped by strong earnings by domestic companies and across the world.
The rally has boosted gains to more than 96% since hitting a 2009 low in March and is up 65.1% this year.
D D Sharma, vice president at Anand Rathi Securities, said the market had discounted the earnings and big reforms would be needed to spur the market upwards.
“We need some big announcements on financial reforms,” he said. “If the government announces further disinvestments or sets some specific time frame for raising so much money, that will provide a further push.”
The government has so far announced stake sale in power firm NHPC Ltd, the first for a state firm in India since February 2008. Oil India is expected to follow in September with a $500 to $600 million issue in September.
Reliance Industries, which has the maximum weight in the BSE index, rose nearly 3% to Rs2,014.95.
Maruti Suzuki rallied almost 4% to Rs1,469.55, after it saw a 33.4% rise in July sales, while Mahindra & Mahindra closed up 6.9% at Rs915.75 after a 22% rise in sales.
Hero Honda, India’s top two-wheeler maker, rose 1% to Rs1,621.55 on a 30.4% rise in July sales. Its smaller rival Bajaj Auto rose 6.5% to Rs1,304.50, after it managed to maintain its sales growth.
Cement firm Grasim Industries rose 1.8% to Rs2,789.80 after the Aditya Birla Group said cement shipments in July rose 10% from a year earlier.
In the broader market, gainers beat losers 1,769 to 954 on above average volume of 409 million shares.
The 50-share NSE index rose 1.62% to 4,711.40 points.
Graphics by Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint