The Indian market is unlikely to suffer no matter the outcome of India’s parliamentary elections, which is starting next month, according to a Credit Suisse strategist.
Historical performances of major Indian indexes, Sensex and Nifty 50, around the last six elections indicate the polls have had little impact on the market, Neelkanth Mishra, co-head of equity strategy for Asia Pacific, said on Wednesday.
“My view is that elections don’t affect markets — not the Indian markets,” he told CNBC’s Nancy Hungerford at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong. “There will be some volatility, perhaps. Whatever the market does, I would act opposite that. If there’s a panic selloff, I would buy. If there’s a big surge, I would sell.”
India will hold elections in seven phases starting from April 11 for the lower house of the parliament. Results are set to be announced in May and a new government will be formed subsequently.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party alliance — the National Democratic Alliance — is expected to take a majority of the 543 parliamentary seats up for grabs during the elections, according to some opinion polls.
The Pew Research Center earlier this week said a survey conducted among 2,521 respondents in India between May and July last year indicated that most adults there are satisfied with the direction of the country as well as economic prospects of the next generation.
Still, concerns around national issues such as the lack of employment opportunities as well as the real impact of demonetization and the good and services tax — two major initiatives under the Modi government — persist.
Mishra added that opinion polls in India have been massively inaccurate in the past — and that inaccuracy has been rising. In 2014, polls missed the outcome by as many as 100 seats, he added.
Even if Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party is unable to win as many seats as the opinion polls are predicting, the big worry among investors is the emergence of a so-called “third-front government” where neither the BJP nor the Indian National Congress holds a major sway.
“That creates chaos, uncertainty and instability in the government and people generally don’t like that,” he said.
As far as investments in the Indian markets go, Mishra said the banking sector is becoming an attractive opportunity due to the stress the non-banking finance companies are currently facing. That means banks, a key source of funding for Indian companies, will drive all of the credit growth in the country going forward, he explained.
Over the last several years, India implemented major reforms to clean up its banks — particularly the public sector ones with major exposure to soured loans.