By Shilpi Pandey New Delhi, Dec 14 (PTI) A favourite of foreign investors for many years, Indian equities seem to have lost the plot this year as the net inflows of the so-called 'hot money' or foreign portfolio investments dipped below USD 3 billion.
This marks a sharp decline from an average USD 20 billion invested by the Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) into Indian stocks in each of the last three years.
In contrast, the debt market kept overseas institutional investors captivated with its relatively steadier return promise and attracted net inflows in the excess of Rs 50,000 crore (well above USD 8 billion) this year.
With a couple of weeks still left before curtains are drawn on 2015, the experts believe the final tally for the equities may be even worse as foreign investors have lately been on a selling spree.
This can make 2015 the worst year for Indian equities in terms of the overseas inflows since 2011, when FPIs pulled out Rs 2,714 crore from the stock markets.
Nonetheless, going by the current trend, it is likely that 2015 would be remembered as the fourth consecutive year of net FPI inflows into stocks.
Fears of a global slowdown and an imminent interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve have spooked foreign investors away from riskier assets, while the delay in implementation of major economic reforms could also have made the Indian markets less attractive for them, analysts said.
"FPIs have been pulling out money in 2015 on account of a double impact with the markets consolidating and the US dollar gaining strength, thereby a higher negative portfolio," investment planning platform 5nance.com Founder and CEO Dinesh Rohira said. Echoing similar views, Geojit BNP Paribas Research Head Alex Mathew said: "A slowdown in FPI investments is mainly on account of slew of global and domestic factors like concerns over the rate hike by the US Federal Reserve and subdued quarterly numbers (of corporate earnings) among others."
However, analysts believe a reversal of trend in the year ahead on expectation of a conducive investment environment.
"The year 2016 is expected to see a reversal with the FPIs coming back as the currency and market conditions both are expected to be conducive for their investments with a net average returns of over 15 per cent," Rohira said.
Mathew also said the next year will be better than 2015 in terms of FPIs investment in capital markets, especially equities.
Another analyst V Srivatsa, EVP and Fund Manager at UTI MF said: "Overseas investment in Indian market will depend on their sentiment for the emerging markets. Besides, reform measures like GST will have a positive impact on the inflow."
As the year draws to an end, FPIs purchased stocks worth Rs 11.22 lakh crore but sold shares to the tune of Rs 11.07 lakh crore, resulting into net inflows of Rs 15,136 crore (USD 2.8 billion) for 2015.
Despite poorer inflows this year, FPIs' cumulative net investments into the Indian equity markets, since being allowed over two decades ago in November 1992, has now reached close to Rs 8 lakh crore.
The cumulative figure for debt securities has also grown to Rs 3.15 lakh crore -- taking the total for both debt and equities to Rs 11.13 lakh crore (USD 224 billion).
The capital poured in by the FPIs is often been called 'hot money' because of its unpredictability, but these overseas entities have still been among the most important drivers of Indian stock markets.