FTSE puts Indian govt bonds on watch for possible index inclusion

Russell has placed Indian on the watchlist for possible inclusion in one of its major global debt indexes, a move that may usher billions of dollars of inflows into the securities.

Indian bonds will be considered for addition to the Emerging Government Bond Index and their market accessibility will be reviewed for reclassification to “1” from “0,” which would put them at the minimum level needed for inclusion, the index provider said. The announcement was part of FTSE’s semi-annual country classification review released Monday.

The announcement will help “ensure greater investment in debt and longer term, it will impose greater fiscal discipline on government finances,” said Sanjay Mathur, chief economist for Asean and India at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Singapore.

The announcement is an acknowledgment of India’s efforts to liberalize its sovereign bond market, with the authorities seeking more foreign investment to help finance the nation’s fiscal deficit.

Inclusion in FTSE’s index may attract about $10 billion of inflows into rupee securities, said Dariusz Kowalczyk, a senior emerging-market strategist at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong, adding that this was an initial estimate.

“This was not fully priced in, and often active money front runs passive money, so I think there should be an impact on rupee and government securities today, but nothing major as actual inclusion is probably years away,” he said.

Fully Accessible

FTSE said global index users have shown an interest in Indian sovereign securities issued through the Fully Accessibility Route, a new category of debt sales introduced by the government last year without foreign ownership restrictions. The index provider said it will start a version of its FTSE Indian Government Bond Index that tracks these securities in coming weeks.

India is also said to be seeking to join JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s global bond indexes, with the nation looking to secure a 7% weighting in the gauges.

FTSE also placed Saudi Arabian on its watchlist for possible inclusion in the FTSE Emerging Government Bond Index. The market’s accessibility level will be considered for reclassification to 1 from 0, it said.

The index provider said it has been in talks with index users and regulators in Saudi Arabia to understand the market structure and investors’ experience. It will continue this interaction before its next country classification review in September 2021, it said.

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