IT stocks power Indian blue-chips to four-week highs

By Bharath Rajeswaran

BENGALURU (Reuters) -Indian blue-chip indexes shrugged off a weak start on Thursday to end at four-week highs as IT stocks continued to bask in expectations that the Federal Reserve is done hiking rates, which also triggered buying interest from foreign investors.

The NSE Nifty 50 index settled 0.46% higher at 19,765.20, while the S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.47% to 65,982.48, notching their highest closes since Oct. 17.

IT stocks have surged 5.35% in the past two sessions as U.S. economic data led to bets that the Fed will forgo more rate hikes and indeed start cutting rates by May.

The jump in IT companies, which have a large U.S. client base, was led by Tata Consultancy Services’s 2.75% gain after it set a record date for its 170 billion rupees share buyback plan.

HCLTech, Tech Mahindra and Infosys rose 2.4%-3%, among the most on the Nifty.

“The expectations of an end to the global rate hike cycle spurred by benign inflation readings in the U.S. and UK have powered the gains in Indian markets,” said Deepak Jasani, head of retail research at HDFC Securities.

Even the more domestically focussed small- and mid-caps rose 0.58% and 0.78%, respectively.

The fall in U.S. Treasury yields due to the easing rate outlook could also trigger foreign inflows, three analysts said.

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) snapped a 15-session selling streak on Wednesday, buying shares worth 5.50 billion rupees ($66 million) on a net basis.

Among stocks, Hero MotoCorp jumped 3.22% after the two-wheeler maker said retail sales rose 19% in the 32-day festive period.

BPCL, IOC, Chennai Petroleum and ONGC gained 1%-2.5% after the government cut the windfall tax on crude oil.

(Reporting by Bharath Rajeswaran in Bengaluru; Editing by Varun H K, Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Savio D’Souza)