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Fund investors in India keep faith in stocks despite market rout

Stock funds took in Rs 111 billion in September, the most since May, up from Rs 83 billion in August, data from the Association of Mutual Funds in India show

Bloomberg 

Fund investors in India keep faith in stocks despite stock market rout

Investors in Indian held tight and even bought more last month, seemingly unfazed by the selloff triggered by a tumbling currency and a crisis at a troubled lender.

Stock funds took in Rs 111 billion ($1.5 billion) in September, the most since May, up from Rs 83 billion in August, data from the Association of Mutual Funds in India show.

Indian equities -- Asia’s top performers until recently -- sank into a correction last week amid a flurry of bad news, from surging oil prices and a slumping rupee to a rout in non-bank lenders following defaults at an infrastructure financier. Further erosion may affect flows to mutual funds, which have repeatedly buffered the nation’s $2 trillion market against the risk-off mood.

“Equity flows are supported largely by retail, a segment that typically takes a bit longer to react to situations and is not as nimble as institutional investors,” said Vidya Bala, head of mutual fund research at FundsIndia. “It is possible that investors, especially new entrants who have not seen a correction like this, may panic if don’t stabilise,” she said.

Individual investors have flocked to mutual funds since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, and own little over half of the Rs 22 trillion of industry assets, data from AMFI show.

The influx of cash has been aided by policy changes, including the currency clampdown in 2016, which hurt returns from property and gold, the traditional favorites.

Continued support from local funds have kept Indian equities relatively insulated from headwinds such as the rising trade tensions between the US and China -- the S&P BSE Sensex climbed to a record in August -- and more than made up for foreign outflows. Last month, mutual funds bought 116.4 billion rupees of shares, negating sales of 96.2 billion rupees by global investors, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“Regular contribution from retail investors should stay as they have been well educated on how investing regularly helps average out volatility,” Chakri Lokapriya, managing director at TCG Asset Management, said by phone. “Also, a market bottom always pulls in investors, and even foreigners will be back to benefit from an oversold rupee and equities.”

Some takeaways:

  • Balanced funds, which buy stocks and bonds, received 7.3 billion rupees in September; net flows to the category slowed to Rs 113 billion since April 1 from Rs 470 billion in the year-earlier period: AMFI
  • Arbitrage funds saw an inflow of Rs 790 million, paring year-to-date outflows to Rs 7.1 billion.
  • Debt funds saw outflow of Rs 335 billion; withdrawals so far this fiscal year totaled about Rs 883 billion versus inflow of Rs 388 billion a year ago.

First Published: Thu, August 08 2019. 23:57 IST
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