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.
For more stories
Rupee down 11 pct in 2013; taper, elections key in 2014: click reut.rs/KiFTta
Indian bonds see worst year since 2009; better times likely:click reut.rs/1cELHb6
World shares enjoy vintage year, seen gaining more in 2014: click reut.rs/1kX1cP6
Gold on track for biggest annual loss in three decades: click reut.rs/1gjwgFR
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.
Infosys Ltd (INFY.NS) shares surged 50.3 percent in 2013.
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.
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.
Editing by Anand Basu