The UK has surpassed India as the world’s sixth-largest equity market for the first time in almost nine months as a weaker pound boosted the appeal of heavyweight exporters trading in London and Adani Group-led jitters weighed on stocks in Mumbai.
The combined market capitalization of primary listings in the UK, excluding ETFs and ADRs, reached about $3.11 trillion on Tuesday, some $5.1 billion higher than their Indian equivalents, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That hasn’t happened since May 29.
James Athey, investment director at Abrdn, said investors are “seeing a deep value opportunity in the UK” following the declines in sterling and with government policy that is “less experimental.” Furthermore, the FTSE 100’s makeup of financials, commodities and defensive stocks is “almost the perfect combination for now,” he said.
After outperforming global equities last year, the UK’s FTSE 350 Index — which comprises stocks in the FTSE 100 and the domestically focused FTSE 250 — has gained 5.9 per cent so far this year, outpacing a 4.7 per cent increase in the MSCI All-Country World Index. That’s been partly driven by record highs for the blue-chip FTSE 100, which topped 8,000 points for the first time last week as its dominance by internationally-focused companies helps the benchmark benefit from weaker sterling.
Still, the UK’s equity market capitalization remains behind France after losing its place as Europe’s biggest stock market last year.
Meanwhile, India’s stock market is grappling with a weaker rupee as well as the fallout of a rout in the share prices of companies in the Adani Group amid allegations of stock manipulation and accounting fraud by US-based short-seller Hindenburg Research.
The MSCI India Index has dropped 6.1 per cent this year, while the group of companies owned by Gautam Adani — among Asia’s richest men — has lost about $142 billion in market capitalization since the Hindenburg report was published on Jan. 24. Adani has repeatedly denied the claims and has also cut expenses and repaid debt as he seeks to calm traders concerned about the group’s access to financing.
Declines in Indian stocks have taken losses in index from a Dec. 1 peak to more than 10 percent as of Wednesday, putting it on course to enter a technical correction. Even so, market participants have said that investor concerns around the Adani companies are focused on the group, rather than the broader Indian market.
“The negative Adani headlines have caused some concerns among international investors, but they’re mainly focused on the group,” said Jian Shi Cortesi, a fund manager at Zurich-based GAM Investments. “This could cause investors to be more selective in India, but we are not seeing investors avoiding Indian stocks in general.”