US visa move hits Indian software stocks; rupee rises
January 31 2017 08:39 PM


India’s software exporters led a decline in the benchmark gauge as the US moves to make hiring workers from abroad more expensive. The Sensex dropped 0.7%, a second straight day of declines, after capping its best weekly gain in eight months. The gauge still finished its best monthly advance since July 2016.
Twenty of the 30 Sensex members fell as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd and Infosys Ltd, India’s top software exporters and both employers in the US of foreign workers, contributed the most to its decline. TCS dropped 4.4%, its steepest retreat in almost three months, while Infosys fell 2.2%.
Software stocks slumped as US President Donald Trump’s plan to roughly double the H-1B minimum wage will probably raise staff costs for Indian exporters and “their operating margins will be under pressure,” said Arjun Prajapati, vice president at Mumbai-based Asit C Mehta Investment Intermediates.
The S&P BSE Information Technology index, a gauge of 58 software companies, tumbled 3% and was the worst performer among the 13 sector indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. The S&P BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods index was the only gainer. ITC Ltd, the second-most weighted stock on Sensex, rose 0.8% and was the top gainer. Some investors are looking forward to India’s central-government budget presentation today. Overseas investors purchased $192mn of local shares in the four trading days through January 27, the highest in seven weeks. The benchmark Sensex index gained 3.9% in January.
Meanwhile, the Indian rupee strengthened by eight paise to 67.87 against a US dollar from its previous close of 67.95 to a greenback.

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