Indian Stocks Extend Gains as Oil Prices Fall; February inflation in focus

People walk past the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai, India, March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

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BENGALURU, March 14 (Reuters) – Indian stocks rose on Monday, extending last week’s gains, as oil prices fell on hopes of progress in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, investors eyeing the country’s retail inflation data due later in the day.

As of 05:11 GMT, the blue chip NSE Nifty 50 index (.NSEI) was up 0.32% at 16,684, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex (.BSESN) gained 0.52% to 55,838.88.

Most equity markets in Asia firmed as oil prices extended last week’s decline after Russia and Ukraine gave their most optimistic assessment yet of the outlook for talks.

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Investors are also focused on retail price inflation in February, which likely eased slightly, according to a Reuters poll, with surveyed economists also warning of the impact of soaring oil prices. Read more

“The most important variable to watch is crude oil, which has been weaker,” said Pankaj Pandey, head of retail research at ICICI Securities in Mumbai.

India is the third largest oil importer and consumer in the world, and is therefore susceptible to high inflation if oil prices rise.

“Crude’s decline from the recent high…indicates that the feared high inflation may not materialize,” said VK Vijayakumar, chief investment strategist at Geojit Financial Services.

The Nifty Bank Index (.NSEBANK) gained 1%, helped by HDFC Bank (HDBK.NS), which added 2.3% after saying on Saturday that the central bank had lifted restrictions on some of its activities in the as part of its digital program.

Among individual stocks, digital payments company Paytm (PAYT.NS) fell 10.7%, after the central bank banned Paytm Payments Bank from taking on new customers and ordered a full audit of its IT systems . Read more

Jubilant FoodWorks (JUBI.NS), the Indian franchise partner of Domino’s Pizza (DPZ.N), fell 14.7%. The boss of the company resigned on Friday.

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Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Uttaresh.V

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Felix J. Dixon