What Factors Led JP Morgan to Upgrade India to an Overweight Rating?

Good Governance: JP Morgan is not alone in upgrading India. Morgan Stanley rated India to overweight, for economic & earnings growth. CLSA increased India portfolio allocation by 20%, Nomura upgraded India to overweight for a strong top-down narrative

The Processor
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JP Morgan, a leading global brokerage, has elevated India to an "overweight" rating, aligning itself with other major financial institutions such as Morgan Stanley, CLSA, and Nomura. This upgrade, driven by a multitude of factors, highlights the growing appeal of India as an investment destination. 

The decision to upgrade India to an overweight rating is grounded in a combination of cyclical and structural factors, each contributing to India's attractiveness as an investment hub:

Positive Seasonality and Elections: India experiences positive seasonality associated with general elections. These events typically stimulate economic activity and investor confidence.

Robust Growth in Emerging Markets (EM) Nominal GDP: India benefits from the overall strong growth in nominal GDP within emerging markets, making it an appealing prospect for investors.

Development of a More Extensive Bond Market: India's endeavors to cultivate a more extensive bond market are anticipated to reduce risk premiums and enhance investment opportunities.

Structural Strengths: JP Morgan recognizes several structural strengths in India, including robust nominal GDP growth driven by demographic trends and significant infrastructure investment needs. India also offers competitive risk-adjusted returns compared to developed markets and boasts a deeper domestic bond market.

Challenges in Emerging Markets (EM) Equities

JP Morgan's assessment acknowledges challenges in EM equities, primarily associated with the rise in US long-term interest rates and the impact of the dollar on global economic growth and interest rates. The brokerage suggests that a sustainable bid for EM equities may only emerge once the United States completes its economic cycle, potentially including a GDP recession and rate cuts.

Within its EM Model portfolio, JP Morgan has selected specific Indian companies as investment options. Notable additions to this portfolio include Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, Bank of Baroda, and Hindustan Unilever, underlining the brokerage's confidence in these entities within the Indian market.

Other Brokerage Upgrades and Downgrades

JP Morgan is not alone in upgrading India. Previously, Morgan Stanley upgraded the country to an overweight rating, citing improving economic and earnings growth. CLSA increased its India portfolio allocation by 20 percent, and Nomura upgraded India to overweight, underscoring a strong top-down narrative and potential benefits from the China+1 trend.

JP Morgan's assessment extends beyond India. The brokerage also upgraded Saudi Arabia to overweight due to factors such as premium oil prices, uncertainty, a strong dollar, and equity market de-rating. In contrast, it downgraded South Korea to a neutral rating due to reasons like profit-taking, higher US rates, slowing demand, and less accommodative monetary policy.

In September, JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced its intention to incorporate Indian government bonds into its benchmark emerging-market index, effective from June 2024. This move is highly anticipated and is expected to attract substantial foreign investment into India's domestic debt market, potentially bringing inflows worth $23 billion into the country, as highlighted by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. This inclusion signifies a substantial milestone for India's financial markets.