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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Financial share plunge rattles Indian stock market 

Investors remain jittery about Indian financial shares after a recent default by Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services

Yes Bank's shares sank to the lowest level since 2016 after India’s banking regulator refused to extend the tenure of its chief executive. REUTERS
Yes Bank's shares sank to the lowest level since 2016 after India’s banking regulator refused to extend the tenure of its chief executive. REUTERS

Volatility erupted in India’s stock market on Friday, with plunges in Yes Bank and Dewan Housing Finance Corporation setting off an exodus from financial shares.

Yes Bank sank to the lowest level since 2016 after India’s banking regulator refused to extend the tenure of the lender’s chief executive, while Dewan tumbled 43 per cent for its steepest loss on record.

The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex swung from a 1 per cent gain to a drop of as much as 3 per cent -- its widest intraday move in more than four years -- before closing with a 0.8 per cent loss. Friday’s declines showed that investors remain jittery about Indian financial shares after a recent default by Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services shook confidence in the sector.

“IL&FS’ problem and Yes Bank’s issues are impacting every financial stock in the market,” A K Prabhakar, head of research at IDBI Capital Market Services, said by phone. “Leveraged positions are being reduced.”

Dewan Housing has a strong liquidity position and sufficient funds available to service any repayment obligations, chairman Kapil Wadhawan told Bloomberg in a phone interview. The company has no exposure to IL&FS Group, Mr Wadhawan said.

DSP Mutual Fund sold Dewan Housing bonds this week to boost its cash holdings before an expected tightening of market liquidity in September, Kalpen Parekh, president of DSP, said in an interview. The firm sold 3 billion rupees ($41.6 million) of the bonds to express “our interest view, not a credit view,” Mr Parekh said. “This has been done across issuers over last few days.”

Some investors are speculating that the Reserve Bank of India may tighten rules for housing finance firms after a long legacy of shoddy lending that’s resulted in ballooning bad debts. This comes after the central bank said Yes Bank’s chief executive officer will have to step down at the end of January.

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“Investors are speculating that more bad loans may come to light as RBI may take stricter action,” said Soumen Chatterjee, head of research at Guiness Securities.

The RBI has also taken a tough line with other private-sector bank chief executives in recent months. The central bank refused to extend the tenure of Axis Bank chief Shikha Sharma, who said she would step down at the end of 2018 despite support from shareholders.

The IL&FS downgrade and default may have nudged investors to avoid potential collateral damage in other financial stocks.

“Downgrades are a serious possibility” for non-bank financial companies, Aneesh Srivastava of IDBI Federal Life Insurance Company said.

After a world-beating advance, the outlook for India’s stock market might be turning amid the financial-industry turmoil. Goldman Sachs Group published a report dated September 16 that called time on the rally and downgraded its stance to the equivalent of a hold rating, citing elevated valuations.

The turbulence in India follows bursts of market volatility across Asian and developing countries this year. While a record-breaking surge in US stocks has kept equity markets largely buoyant, some investors are growing skittish as global interest rates rise. The Hong Kong dollar posted its biggest swing since 2003 on Friday, while markets from Turkey to Argentina have endured big spikes in volatility in recent months.

“A bearish phase in the market is beginning,” IDBI Federal’s Srivastava said.