Updated from 4:58 p.m. EDT
Stocks in India nosedived Friday as market players in the Far East reacted to hot inflation data. The wholesale price index (WPI) hit a three-year high at 7% for the 12 months ending on March 22, up sharply from the previous week's rise of 6.68%, according to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry data.
The inflation spike was mainly due to higher costs for food, vegetables, minerals, raw-materials and manufactured goods. The accelerating rise in inflation could be the nail in the coffin for a central bank rate hike or for further tightening of the money supply.
"The overall sentiment is down in the market and it knows that controlling inflation will remain a challenge," said Chetan Shah, portfolio manager at Religare Securities. The Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index dove 489.43 points, or 3.1%, to 15,343.12.US Futures Exchange (UFSE) in Chicago officially launched trading Friday for U.S.-dollar based futures that track India's Bombay Stock Exchange Sensex Index. The new futures contracts will allow market players outside of India access to the growing Indian markets. Officials said the majority of the volume for the India-based futures will come from emerging-market hedge funds, international mutual funds and strategic investors. The contract will trade 23 hours a day and have a notional value of $40,000 and a tick size of $5. Standard & Poor's Rating Services cut Indian automaker Tata Motors' (TTM) non-investment grade corporate credit rating to BB from BB+, and said the ratings will stay on negative watch due to Tata's recent acquisition of Ford Motor's (F) luxury auto brands Jaguar and Land Rover. S&P also cut the ratings on Tata Motors' rated debt to BB from BB+. American depositary shares of Tata Motors, which trade on the New York Stock Exchange, fell 1.3% to $15.93. Indian business process outsourcing (BPO) service firm WNS Holdings (WNS) announced it has formed a joint venture with Philippines-based BPO company Advanced Contact Solutions. The joint venture company, WNS Philippines, will be majority controlled by WNS and will market contact center services to global customers. Shares of WNS closed essentially flat at $17.34. In the Indian technology sector, IT solutions provider I-flex Solutions announced it has inked a deal with global information technology firm Wipro Limited (WIT - Get Report) to market and support its products throughout the Middle East and Egypt. I-flex is majority-owned by American-based software giant Oracle (ORCL). Shares of Wipro fell 1% to $11.98. Elsewhere in the Indian technology sector, Sify Technologies (SIFY) advanced 5% to $4.75; Rediff.com (REDF) added 3.2% to $8.87; Infosys Technologies (INFY) fell 1.5% to $36.85; and Satyam Computer (SAY) fell 2.8% to $23.56. Be sure to check out the Far East Portfolio at Stockpickr.com every night to find out which stocks in India and China are making big moves and announcing major news.