Sensex ends year with 9 pct gain; uncertain 2014 looms

MUMBAI Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:33pm IST

1 of 3. A road sign stands next to the Bombay Stock Exchange building (R), August 3, 2005.

Credit: Reuters/Arko Datta/Files

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MUMBAI (Reuters) - The BSE Sensex edged higher on Tuesday, sending the index to a 8.9 percent annual gain and a record high this year, as foreign investor flows offset widespread concerns about a domestic economy suffering from low growth but high inflation.

Foreign institutional investors bought a net $20.1 billion worth of shares so far this year, according to provisional regulatory data, marking a second consecutive year of purchases after their $24.5 billion in 2012.

The strong foreign buying concentrated on exporters such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) (TCS.NS) and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (SUN.NS) that were the top gaining shares this year. TCS and Sun Pharmaceutical benefited as the rupee hit a record low in late August.

However, analysts worry those foreign flows could ebb, leaving Indian shares exposed at a time when concerns about the economy abound, while the country faces the prospect of uncertain general elections due by May.

"Given the deceleration the growth and the various issues we faced this year, I think the year ended reasonably well compared to what we were thinking at one point of time," said S. Naren, chief investment officer of ICICI Prudential Asset Management Co.

"If after the elections the foreign investor believes that growth dynamic will improve, India will remain one of the best countries for a secular growth story would, so I think whether their will be substantial flows would depend on the election outcome

The Sensex closed at 21,170.68, up 27.67 points for the day.

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For the year, the Sensex rose 8.9 percent, compared with a 25.7 percent gain last year, a middle-of-the-pack performance in local currency terms for Asia-Pacific exchanges, according to exchanges tracked by Thomson Reuters.

However, in dollar terms, the index rose only 3.2 percent for the year due to an 11 percent plummet in the rupee, making the index the region's seventh worst performer as per Thomson Reuters data.

The Nifty held 0.21 percent on the day to end at 6,304, advancing 6.8 percent this year.

Exports dependent software service providers and pharmaceutical companies were the top performers this year, with many shares hitting a record high, benefiting from the weak rupee and growth recovery in the United States and Europe.

HCL Technologies (HCLT.NS) shares doubled this year, while Tata Consultancy Services, and Wipro Ltd (WIPR.NS) surged 73 percent and 61.3 percent, respectively.

Infosys Ltd (INFY.NS) shares surged 50.3 percent in 2013.

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (SUN.NS) and Lupin Ltd (LUPN.NS) rose over 54 percent and 47 percent respectively for the year.

On Tuesday, blue chips were the leading gainers, with Reliance Industries Ltd (RELI.NS) closing up 0.91 percent, Tata Motors Ltd (TAMO.NS) ending 0.4 percent higher and Tata Consultancy Services gaining 0.7 percent.

Shares of India's Apollo Tyres Ltd (APLO.NS) surged 5.77 percent after a deal to acquire U.S.-based Cooper Tire & Rubber Co (CTB.N) fell through late last night.

Cement makers recouped some losses as Monday's sell-off over worries about weakening cement prices was seen overdone: ACC Ltd (ACC.NS) ended up 1.3 percent and Ambuja Cements Ltd (ABUJ.NS) rose 0.4 percent.

Shares in supermarket chain Trent Ltd (TREN.NS) rose 0.4 percent a day after the foreign investment regulator approved a $110 million investment plan by Britain's Tesco (TSCO.L).

(Editing by Anand Basu)

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