Foreign institutional investors (FIIs), the prime force behind the pre-election rally, might turn cautious as the first round of voting for the general elections starts on Monday.
Foreign investors are unlikely to take large positions in index stocks and the focus could turn to the mid- and small-cap stocks, where valuations are still relatively attractive, experts said.
“Mid-caps have been in focus as there is still more upside left in some stocks there. We have seen investors have already made the shift to mid-cap names in high-beta sectors likeinfrastructure, capital goods and real estate,” said Vivek Mahajan, head of research, Aditya Birla Money.
On Friday, the BSE Sensex closed at 22,359, having remained flat through the week. The National Stock Exchange Nifty also ended the week flat at 6,694. On the other hand, the BSE mid-cap index gained 2.7 per cent through the week while the BSE small-cap index was up 3.8 per cent.
FIIs through the week have been net buyers of equities at Rs 5,124 crore. But the amount of purchases had slowed in the past three trading sessions.
A further surge in the benchmark Nifty can be limited as FII buying could remain muted going into the elections, said experts.
“FII-buying is likely to be a little less aggressive because they have already built up positions ahead of the elections. They are neither creating too many short positions nor exiting long ones,” said Ashish Chaturmohta, head of technical and derivative analysis, Fortune Equity Brokers.
Voting for the general elections will begin on Monday with states like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and Haryana, among others, going to the polls. Experts said market participants would keenly watch the voter turnout, with the Election Commission banning mid-election exit polls.
“This time, the voting percentage can drive market sentiment,” said Nirmal Rungta, director, CIMB Securities.
On Saturday, the last set of pre-election polls seemed to suggest a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-win, which could boost the market on Monday, analysts said.
Markets are hopeful of a Narendra Modi-led BJP government, widely perceived to be business-friendly.
The Election Commission has banned mid-election exit polls to keep a check on speculative news flows about the election results. Exit polls will be declared only at the end of the voting period.
Analysts said the broad range for the Nifty would remain between 6,500 and 6,850.
The week ahead will also see the industrial production data (the Index of Industrial Production) for the month of February and March export-import data being released by the government.
“Trade data and the IIP data are expected to be very weak. But these have been factored into the market,” said Tirthankar Patnaik, director, strategist and chief economist, Religare Capital Markets.
Analyst said even the slump in the US markets, led by a slump in technology stocks, was unlikely to have an impact on Indian markets. “What the markets are keenly watching at this point are only the elections,” said Patnaik.
On Friday, US markets declined as investors booked profits in technology stocks. The tech index, was down the most at 2.6 per cent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 1.3 per cent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down about one per cent.
Market watchers said the decline had less to do with the state of the US economy, which was improving as evidenced by the encouraging jobs data released on Friday. It had more to do with the over-valuation of stocks like Facebook, Netflix and TripAdvisor. These stocks would continue to pull down the US market indices, they said.