Indian stock market outlook as of Feb 2021 has got to do with low-interest rates globally and optimism around vaccines. The Pro expansionary Budget has just provided a floor for valuation as the investors anticipate earnings growth to follow government investments sooner or later (Bhise, 2021). These things have led to new highs for Nifty.

The associated risks can come from (i) rising Oil prices, (ii) rising interest rates due to fiscal deficit, and (iii) synchronous global market correction as US multi-year economic expansion is behind India.

Bond Interest Rate and the Stock Market

In the month of February, the bond investors were revolting against the bond market interest rate. As a result of which reflation (stimulating the economic output by means of fiscal stimulus or reduction in taxes)- the guiding light of treasuries betting on rebounding growth is proving to be resilient. Long-term Treasury yields touched the highest in almost a year, the market stumbled on the expectations of inflation that accelerated to the fastest pace since 2014 and the yield curve reached the steepest levels in more than 5 years (Bloomberg, 2021). 

The reflation trade paused for a while after the government press release on 10 February showed the consumer-price inflation to be revolving around 1.4% annually, which was lower than expected. According to Michael Pond, global head of inflation strategy at Barclays, the CPI report was a disappointment as it doesn’t change the outlook of investors and there is no expectation that it will change investors’ views about expected inflation (Bloomberg, 2021).

Hence the theme of reflation is based on a story about where inflation will move once the majority of the citizens are vaccinated and demand normalisation. 

Does a Change in the Federal Reserve Interest Rate on New Bonds Stimulate the Indian Market?

After Joe Biden swearing as the 46th US President and taking over his role in the White House, the Fed, the central bank of the US has been closely involved in changing the interest rates on new bonds in the month of February. For an emerging economy like India, these changes have a significant effect. The India investors whose speculations are based on the daily movements in the world stock markets are of the view that the decision of the Fed to decrease the interstate rate on bonds will be welcomed by the citizens as the economy struggles to revive from the COVID-19 pandemic. The ultimate goal is to infuse liquidity in the market so that citizens have cash in their hands which will help to pull up the demand in India. 

The Fed expected its interest rate to be close to zero and signalled that it will remain close to zero in many years to come. This is a part of a long-term strategy that the Fed adopted in the year 2020 that proved to be helpful while navigating a world of persistently low-interest rates that makes it difficult to hit its 2 percent inflation goal (Reuters, 2020). 

A sharp increase in demand as Covid-19 inoculations allow more of the economy to reopen could push inflation above the Fed’s 2 per cent target. If markets push up long-run interest rates a bit to reflect expectations for future faster growth, the Fed likely wouldn’t change course. That’s consistent with the new framework if the economy hasn’t achieved sustained 2 percent inflation by then (Reuters, 2020).

RBI Having a Tough Time in Keeping a Check on Bond Yields

After the release of Union Budget 2021, RBI is under constant pressure to keep the traders of bond calm. Although a higher fiscal deficit was expected, it rose to 9.5% as a percentage of India’s GDP for FY21 and is forecasted to touch 6.8% in FY22. A higher fiscal deficit came as a daunting news for the bond market which led to a surge in bond yields. 

There is an estimate made that the market borrowing of the central government will be at Rs 12 lakh crore in FY22. There is an increased supply of government bonds in the market that could lead to a demand-supply gap, thus putting pressure on yields. The investors in the government bonds are receiving higher yields thereby causing a similar demand on corporate bonds (ET Contributors, 2021). This leads to a rise in borrowing cost for corporates, thereby negatively impacting private investments in the country. In addition, higher bond yields further complicate the transmission process of the rate cut by the central bank (ET Contributors, 2021).

The responsibility now falls on the shoulders of RBI to keep a check on bond yields. In the last bi-monthly Monetary Policy meeting (MPC), there were no announcements made in this regard. As the economy is currently recovering from a recessionary phase, the phase of increase in inflation is getting stronger (ET Contributors, 2021). 

Thus given the current circumstances, RBI would be having a tough time in keeping the check on yields. The central bank has to deal with two-fold problems: on one hand to check the inflation while on the other hand has to handle the market borrowings from both the central and state governments. RBI needs to actively participate in the bond market and communicate well with the market participants in order to ensure that the bond yields are in check. 

Pandemic Fatigue Leading to a Fear of Lockdown

As news around the second wave, COVID-19 pandemic in foreign countries like UK, US, Australia are reaching the Indian households, residents are in a fist that there might be phased lockdown across the states in India. Several states like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Kerala are recording a spike in COVID-19 cases again which is directing the state and central government to impose night curfews in these states. Cities like Mumbai, Pune, Amravati, Aurangabad, Ahmedabad are already observing night curfews due to a rapid hike in COVID-19 cases. 

In a recent report released by Union Health Ministry, the primary reasons for the growing number of cases in few states were reported as – COVID inappropriate behaviour due to “lack of fear of disease”, pandemic fatigue, missed cases, super spreading events and crowds due to recent gram panchayat elections, marriages, reopening of schools, and crowded public transport.

The Recent INR-USD Change

The US Dollar to Indian Rupee Exchange Rate measures the ratio between the US Dollar and the Indian Rupee. Exchange Rates can be used to measure the relative health of an economy versus another. Exchange rates are also important in corporations that operate worldwide because they will directly impact their financials (YC, 2021).

US Dollar to Indian Rupee Exchange Rate is at a current level of 73.92, up from 72.74 the previous market day (February 25, 2021)  and up from 71.65 one year ago. This is a change of 1.62% from the previous market day and 3.17% from one year ago (YC, 2021). 

F&O Cues

F&O stands for Future and Options. These are the major types of stock derivatives traded in a share market. These Derivatives are the financial instruments deriving their values from an underlying such as currency, gold, or the stocks of a company.

Such contracts try to hedge market risks involved in stock market trading by locking in the price beforehand.

  • Nifty February futures ended at 15,195; premium of 22 points 
  • Nifty February futures add 1.2% and 1,745 shares in Open Interest
  • Nifty Bank February futures ended at 35,854; premium of 102 points
  • Nifty Bank February futures add 4.3% and 2,621 shares in Open Interest 
  • Nifty Put-Call Ratio at 1.48 Out of F&O Ban: Sun TV Stocks In F&O Ban: BHEL, SAIL 

Brief on FII and DII Trading Activities during February 2021

Foreign Institutional Investors (FII) is the term used for investors who belong to foreign lands and are interested in putting their money in the Indian stock market. These are available in various forms such as mutual funds, investment trusts and pension funds. Domestic Institutional Investors (DII), on the other hand, refer to the investors belonging to India who invest their money in the Indian stock market. This comprises domestic mutual funds, banking and financial institutions, insurance companies and domestic pension funds (Dhanorker, 2020).

Indian stock market attracts millions of investors annually. These investors are primarily driven by institutional money. Both FIIs as well as DIIs constitute the major part of liquidity in the stock market. Therefore the effective tracking of their inflows and outflows are helpful in forecasting the broader trends in the markets. FIIs are believed to have a greater influence on the domestic markets along with the sustained flows from DIIs (Dhanorker, 2020). The countries which constitute a major portion of FII inflows into India are listed below. 

Countries FII inflows are coming from
Countries FII inflows are coming from | Source: Bloomberg 

The performance of FIIs and DIIs have been carefully traced to meet the expectations of the investors during the month of February 2021. One of the primary reasons behind this is that the year 2021 will mark the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine followed by the economic recovery that will see the Indian government taking stimulus measures to cope with the weak performance of the Indian economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. So it becomes of utmost importance to keep a track of previous FII and DII trading activities. 

FII and DII Trading activities from December 2020 to February 2021
FII and DII Trading activities from December 2020 to February 2021 | Source: Money control 

The above table shows the trading activities of FIIs and DIIs from December 2020 to February 2021. There has been a continuous increase in the gross purchase of FII from Rs. 182 crores (approximately) in December 2020 to Rs. 223 crores (approximately) in February 2021. The gross sales of FII also increased from Rs 134 crores (approximately) in December 2020  to Rs. 180 crores (approximately) in February 2021. This increase was sharp for the month of  January and February because of the speculations surrounding the foreign investors due to the successful release of the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccination of common citizens which ultimately registered a steep increase in the net purchase/sales for the FIIs. 

Similarly, DIIs showed an impressive improvement in their performance as their gross purchases increased threefold from Rs. 84 crores (approximately) in December 2020 to Rs. 104 crores (approximately) in February 2021. Due to the restrictions on the movement across the borders and closing of the economies worldwide, the domestic investors started putting their money in the Indian stock market as a result of which the gross purchase increased. However, the gross sales had reduced from December  2020 to January 2021 2020 but increased during February 2021. 


In my opinion, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 delivered some of the greatest shocks to the global economies since World War II. The entire economies have been locked down and people adjusted to the new ways of working, studying and socialising. There are millions of people who have lost their jobs and became unemployed as a result of which inequality and poverty soared. The globalised economies acting as lifelines to billions of people worldwide has suddenly become vulnerable, owing to the disruptions of the global supply chains and government strategies to protect domestic stock market. Given the persistence of COVID-19, the recovery in 2021 will largely depend on how effectively the vaccine is distributed and how the various industry stakeholders reacted to the Union Budget 2021-22. The multidisciplinary robust approach will be required to mitigate the ill-effects of the pandemic and to address longer-term challenges posed by climate change. For this current and former political leaders, scholars, academicians, senior policymakers should provide exclusive analyses of the tasks that lie ahead in order to ensure that we are ready to meet the forthcoming challenges. 


Bhise, R. (2021, February 11). February 2021 Stock Market Outlook. investment shastra.

Bloomberg. (2021, February 14). Bond market reflation trade absorbs punch to extend 2021 advance. Economic Times.

Dhanorker, S. (2020, June 29). What stocks are FPIs, FIIs and DIIs buying and selling? Economic Times.

ET Contributors. (2021, February 18). Why is RBI having a tough ride in keeping bond yields in check. Economic Times.

Reuters. (2020, December 16). Fed will be tested in 2021 as vaccines boost US economic outlook. Economic Times.

YC. (2021, March 7). US Dollar to Indian Rupee Exchange Rate 73.92 INR/1 USD for Feb 26 2021. Charts.

Pragya Singh

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