Indian stocks slip as Adani losses weigh, Asian markets rise

By Ambar Warrick -- Indian stocks fell on Wednesday as losses in the Adani Group weighed after short seller Hindenburg raised concerns over the conglomerate’s debt position, while broader Asian markets crept higher amid sustained bets on a Chinese economic recovery this year.

India’s Nifty 50 and BSE Sensex 30 indexes slipped 1.1% and 0.9%, respectively, with the members of the Adani Group weighing the most after Hindenburg accused the firm of being highly overleveraged, making it susceptible to a sharp drop in valuation.

Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (NS:APSE) was the worst performer among the seven listed Adani firms, falling about 6.3%, while Adani Enterprises Ltd (NS:ADEL), Adani Total Gas Ltd (NS:ADAG) and Adani Wilmar Ltd (NS:ADAW) slipped between 2.8% and 5%.

Hindenburg also accused India’s second-largest conglomerate of engaging in fraud and stock market manipulation. The firm has a total value of over $200 billion, with its seven constituents making up a large chunk of Indian stock markets.

Broader Asian markets crept higher, although volumes remained limited due to a week-long Chinese market holiday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.4%, while South Korea’s KOSPI rose 1.4%.

Markets are betting that a week-long holiday in China will greatly boost economic growth, especially after the country withdrew most anti-COVID measures and reopened its borders after three years of lockdowns.

A recovery in the Chinese economy is widely expected to spill over into the rest of Asia, given the country’s role as a major trade destination for the region. Chinese stock markets rallied sharply over the past two months, as did most China-exposed markets.

Most Southeast Asian markets, which are also heavily exposed to China, rose slightly on Wednesday.

On the other hand, Australia’s ASX 200 index fell 0.3% after data showed that Australian consumer price index inflation grew more than expected in the fourth quarter and stuck to a 32-year high.

The reading heralds more pressure on the Australian economy from higher price pressures, and is also likely to invite more interest rate hikes by the Reserve Bank, which is likely to weigh on local stocks.

Broader markets are also concerned over a potential global recession this year, following weak economic prints from the U.S. and Eurozone. Focus this week is on U.S. fourth-quarter GDP data, which is expected to show a cooling in growth.

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