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Don’t chase India’s market rally — the good news is ‘already priced in,’ HSBC says

A pedestrian speaks on a mobile phone as he looks at share prices on a digital broadcast outside the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in Mumbai on November 10, 2020.

PUNIT PARANJPE | AFP via Getty Images

SINGAPORE — India’s markets may have rallied to historic levels, but investors may want to stay away from chasing the rally for now, says HSBC Private Banking, which is currently underweight on India.

“Our view at this stage is that a lot of the good news is already priced in to the Indian market as of now,” James Cheo, chief market strategist for Southeast Asia at the firm, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday.

As of Friday’s close, both the Nifty 50 and S&P BSE Sensex sat close to all-time highs that were touched on Nov. 25, according to Refinitiv Eikon. India’s markets were closed on Monday for a holiday.

The recent rally came amid a “risk-on” rally worldwide, where investors were more willing to take on risks in part due to hopes of a coronavirus vaccine that could lift global economies out of the pandemic-induced slump.

Still, India has been among the worst affected by the pandemic. As of Monday afternoon Singapore time, the country had the second highest number of confirmed cases globally with more than 9.4 million infections, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. It has the third highest number of deaths at 137,139 — behind only the U.S. and Brazil, Hopkins data showed.

“I think as of now, it is appropriate to just be a bit judicious and not chase this rally that’s ongoing especially in the Indian market,” Cheo said. “That’s why we put a slight underweight in our Indian equity exposure.”

The recovery from the pandemic is likely to be “very much uneven” across the world as implementation of the vaccine would be an issue when one is available, he said.

“It’s very difficult to predict at this stage the pace of implementation between and/in different countries,” the strategist said. “Therefore, I think we want to have a nuanced approach in our country investing as of now.”

Still, the strategist acknowledged that the “risk-on mode is likely to continue,” emphasizing the need to “be fluid” in decision making as the dynamics of the situation could change rapidly.

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