Key indicators broke the Friday the 13th hoodoo on the Sensex. Inflation was down and stock prices were up, propped up ably by IT major Infosys’ results.
After staying above 6 per cent for over two months, inflation dropped to 5.74 per cent for the week ended March 31, pulling down the annual average for 2006-07 to 5.18 per cent, well within the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) target of 5-5.5 per cent for the fiscal year that has just ended.
Consumers, home-buyers and industry may be hurting because of the sharply-increased loan rates, but the RBI’s series of stern fiscal measures taken to tame the price line is clearly beginning to grip.
The good news gave the stock market, already cheering a great beginning to the fourth-quarter results season — Infosys flagged it off with a 70 per cent growth in net profit — added reason to climb. The Sensex gained 270.27 points, or 2.06 per cent, to close at 13,384 points, while the wider Nifty of the National Stock Exchange rose 87 points, or 2.28 per cent, to end the day at 3,917.
Infosys clocked a profit of Rs 1,124 crore for the last quarter of 2006-07, compared to Rs 664 crore last year. The IT major recorded a profit of Rs 3,783 crore for the 2006-07 financial year on an income of Rs 13,524 crore.
More reason to cheer followed. India’s forex reserves crossed the $200 billion mark on Friday, a mere 15 years after a balance of payments crisis forced the nation to pawn its gold reserves. Though inflation is under control, the government is not taking any chances. On Friday, it cut import duty on crude and refined palm oil by 10 per cent, to check prices.