The S&P BSE Sensex Index has fallen more than 15% from its October high, nearing the 20% loss that denotes a bear market. The selloff comes as climbing costs and a record plunge in the rupee have forced the nation’s central bank to join global peers in raising interest rates.
The Indian stock market’s value is already down nearly 20% from its January peak of about $3.7 trillion dollars. The unsupportive economic backdrop combined with an unprecedented exodus of foreign investors and earnings estimates that appear poised to tumble cloud the outlook for a rebound.
“We expect the markets to further correct from here,” said Benaifer Malandkar, chief investment officer at Raay Global Investments Pvt. “Expectation is that by the second quarter, most negative news, the outcome of the Fed’s actions will get priced in.”
Overseas investors have been selling Indian stocks at a record pace, withdrawing about $32 billion from the market since September. The retreat of foreigners is part of a wave hitting nations including South Korea and Taiwan as well.
“India is not in isolation since it’s part of the emerging market basket, and clearly the EMs are out of favor,” said Raay Global’s Malandkar. “Until the US Fed rate is at its peak, we will see redemptions happening across EMs.”
The drop in Indian equities has mainly been caused by valuation contraction so far. Earnings estimates for the NSE Nifty 50 Index are yet to clock a meaningful decline like that seen in MSCI Inc.’s broadest measure for Asian equities.
Over the past few weeks, strategists at Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have expressed concerns about the earnings optimism that has surrounded India. Pending any rebound in valuations, estimate cuts are likely to pull stocks down further.
Smaller stocks have been hit harder by investor risk aversion, with gauges of small and mid-cap Indian shares having already entered bear markets. Market breadth has weakened, with just 16% of S&P BSE 500 Index stocks trading above their 200-day average level, the lowest level in two year.