India stocks leap as vote count favors Modi win

Indian policemen on duty watch election results on television at a counting station in New Delhi, India, Friday, May 16, 2014. India's main Hindu nationalist party was making early gains Friday as officials began counting votes following the country's massive national election, with the opposition looking to end the ruling Congress party's decade-long reign. The Election Commission was expected to announce the results later in the day. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

HONG KONG (AP) — Indian stocks jumped Friday as early results from the country's national election indicated the pro-business opposition was headed for victory.

Indian stocks have been rising since voting in the world's most populous democracy got underway six weeks ago in anticipation of a victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies.

Narendra Modi, the party's candidate for prime minister, has campaigned on a pledge to revive economic growth amid widespread dissatisfaction with the ruling Congress party after a decade in power. Full results are expected later Friday.

The Sensex stock index in Mumbai was up about 5 percent to 25,120.77 after earlier touching an all-time high of 25,375.63. India's currency also strengthened. The dollar fell to 58.76 Indian rupees from 59.46 rupees Thursday.

A Modi victory is "very important for Indian politics, in part because of the much needed reforms" he is expected to implement, said Desmond Chua, analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore.

Reforms would help to improve the business climate in India, where growth has faded because competition has been stifled by rising corruption and elite families control large chunks of the economy, he said.

Elsewhere in Asia, markets took a cue from Wall Street, which had a big sell-off after a batch of mixed reports on the global economy.

The economic picture from the U.S. was underwhelming. One report showed factory output fell, while another suggested hiring would continue. In Europe, the signs were more disappointing, with a report that first quarter economic output in the 18 country eurozone rose a less-than-expected 0.2 percent.

It was enough to give the Dow Jones industrial average its worst day in five weeks and push the dollar lower.

Japan's led the decline in regional benchmarks, with Tokyo's Nikkei 225 stock shedding 1.7 percent to 14,057.79 as the yen strengthened. A stronger yen makes exports from Japan's manufacturers pricier for overseas buyers.

South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.1 percent to 2,007.47 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.7 percent to 22,577.40. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.3 percent to 2,017.84. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 retreated 0.6 percent to 5,479.80. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and New Zealand also fell.

On Wall Street, the Dow lost 1 percent to 16,446.81 and the Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.9 percent to 1,870.85. The Nasdaq lost 0.8 percent to 4,069.29.

In currencies, the dollar fell to 101.46 Japanese yen from 101.54 in late trading Thursday. The euro was little changed at $1.3717.

Oil prices rose, with benchmark crude for June delivery up 42 cents to $101.92 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 87 cents to close at $101.50 on Thursday.