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India stocks set to hit new highs in 2024 as economy hums: Reuters poll

Published Nov 22, 2023 06:29AM ET Updated Nov 22, 2023 09:41PM ET
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© Reuters. A man walks past the new logo of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai, India, July 12, 2023. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas
 
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By Devayani Sathyan and Shaloo Shrivastava

BENGALURU (Reuters) - India's stock market will hit new highs in the next six months and rise over 10% from here by end-2024, driven by a sustained expansion in the fastest-growing major economy, according to a Reuters poll of equity strategists.

Those same strategists also said in response to an extra question value stocks, which have trailed overall equity performance in recent years as investors chased technology and other shares, will outperform growth stocks.

The benchmark BSE Sensex index touched an all-time high of 67,927.23 in September, recording the longest streak of gains in 16 years. The index has since dropped around 3% but was still up almost 8% for the year.

While that run puts India as one of the best performing markets - the BSE index has risen in nine of the past 10 years - it also makes it expensive compared to regional peers and other major indices.

The BSE's current price-to-earnings ratio of 21.45 was only second to the U.S. S&P 500 ratio of 23.11 according to LSEG data.

But still nearly 90% of analysts, 22 of 25, who answered an additional question in the Nov. 10-22 poll said Indian stocks would hit record highs in the coming six months.

The Sensex was expected to gain over 6% from Monday's close of 65,655.15 to a lifetime high of 70,000 by mid-2024, an upgrade from 68,578 in an August poll.

It was then forecast to add another 3.6% to reach 72,500 by end-2024, according to the median forecast of 29 analysts.

India's economy is the fastest growing among major economies and is expected to grow over 6% in the next couple of years. That is likely to push domestic equities higher.

"This was a good year for growth in Indian markets and next year we should see some moderation in growth. But having said that, I think India remains one of the well-favoured markets," said Rajat Agarwal, Asia equity strategist at Societe Generale (OTC:SCGLY).

"Growth is resilient and the macro momentum has been strong and that should continue to be the case in 2024 as well."

The strong run-up in domestic equity prices may be due to the rise in young Indian investors fuelling the boom at a time when the country has overtaken China as the most populous in the world.

"A combination of better financial literacy and increased access to financial services has led to a surge in mutual fund accounts (typically used by retail investors), from under 60 million in 2016 to over 150 million now," noted Shilan Shah, deputy chief EM economist at Capital Economics.

Asked about expectations for corporate earnings over the coming six months all 27 respondents said they would increase.

"Earnings actually extended by more than 20% this year. So we already have a high base. I think earnings should increase, but we might not really have the kind of growth we saw in the last year," added Agarwal.

Two-thirds of analysts, 16 of 24, said value stocks would perform better over growth stocks in the coming six months.

"In an environment where interest rates are high, or are expected to be high if not go up further, value typically does better," said Nishit Master, portfolio manager at Axis Securities.

"We are not going back to the 0% interest rates or 1% or 2% global interest rates any time soon. And if that is the case, value will keep on doing well."

The Nifty 50 index was forecast to gain 5.6% from Monday's close of 19,694 to 20,800 by mid-2024 and reach 21,840 by end-2024.

India stocks set to hit new highs in 2024 as economy hums: Reuters poll
 

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