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Indian stocks gain after worst year since 2011

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India claims to be the world's fastest-growing major economy, yet the government might break its budget deficit targets to stimulate demand, potentially undermining the central bank's fight against inflation.

[MUMBAI] Indian stocks advanced on the first day of trading in the new year amid thin volumes after the benchmark gauge capped the first annual decline in four years.

Tata Motors Ltd, the owner of Jaguar Land Rover, rose for a third day this week to become the top gainer on the S&P BSE Sensex this week. State Bank of India, the nation's biggest lender, halted a three-day decline. Carriers InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, Jet Airways India Ltd and SpiceJet Ltd all rallied more than 8 per cent each after the region's costliest fuel prices were cut to the lowest in five years.

The Sensex gained 0.2 per cent to 26,160.90 at the close in Mumbai, after changing directions at least 15 times. The gauge rose for a third straight week, rising 1.3 per cent during the period. The broader S&P BSE 200 Index rose 0.4 per cent on Friday and 1.4 per cent this week.

"We believe 2016 should be much better than 2015 especially because we are seeing the signs of economic recovery setting in," Mahesh Nandurkar, a strategist at CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets in Mumbai, said in an interview to Bloomberg TV India. "There are quite a few high-frequency monthly economic indicators which are trending up." CLSA is overweight on shares of software exporters, private lenders and automobile companies, Mr Nadurkar said.

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The Sensex slid 5 per cent last year, after rising 30 per cent in 2014, as the euphoria over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's economic agenda waned and concern grew that tighter US monetary policy will curb the appeal of higher returns offered in emerging markets. Global investors bought US$3.1 billion of Indian shares in 2015, the smallest inflow in four years.

The Nifty 50 Index added 0.2 per cent, with volume 56 per cent less than the 30-day average. Most major global markets are shut Friday for the New Year holiday.