Stock investors are taking heart from India’s efforts to re-open its economy, even as the country continues on a trajectory to overtake the U.S. as the country with the most coronavirus cases. The S&P BSE Sensex’s has rallied almost 11 per cent since hitting a more than two-month low on September 24, the best performance among the world’s national equity benchmarks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It is less than 2 per cent away from wiping out its losses for the year.
A Jefferies Financial Group Inc. model tracking economic recovery this week showed activity in India is already at 93 per cent of pre-Covid levels. The country is set to further relax restrictions on gatherings of people and allow schools, multiplexes and entertainment parks to reopen in some areas from October 15.
“A higher-than-expected level of economic reopening, coupled with various steps from policy makers, creates an upside risk for GDP and earnings estimates, said Sameer Kalra, a strategist at Mumbai-based Target Investing. “There is a good chance that third-quarter GDP shows a recovery and then the Sensex hits a record by December,” he said.
The Sensex capped its best week since early June on Friday as the central bank signaled more policy easing ahead and announced a slew of liquidity steps to support the economy. In the past few days, data showing a mild improvement in some economic indicators and optimism over earnings results from a few major firms have also helped boost investor sentiment.
India’s biggest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India posted its highest monthly sales in two years in September, as an end to a nationwide lockdown prompted dealerships to stock up ahead of a festive season. Asia’s third largest economy is set to announce third-quarter growth at the end of November. That number will be closely watched after the economy contracted by a record in the second quarter.
“The Indian government has pursued a gradual re-opening and the Covid peak seems to be behind now,” Jefferies strategists Mahesh Nandurkar and Abhinav Sinha wrote in a note last week as they upgraded the nation’s financial stocks to overweight from neutral.
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