Indian investors bought a record amount of the nation’s stocks as markets swooned, but local funds lack the firepower to prop up key indexes for much longer, history shows.

Domestic funds purchased 76.7 billion rupees ($1 billion) of stocks Thursday amid the selloff triggered by Russia’s military action in Ukraine, outweighing foreign investors’ 64.5 billion rupee sale, according to provisional data. The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex dropped 5%.

Local institutional investors have made similar, albeit smaller, purchases at least four times since the broader S&P BSE 500 gauge peaked in October. Even these have been insufficient to halt the slide as foreign investors withdrew more than $12 billion.


In fact each time the domestic fund flow exceeded its three-standard deviation — Thursday’s purchase was five-standard — the S&P BSE 500 Index rallied for a few sessions before succumbing to the prevailing downtrend, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Questions about whether domestic demand will be enough to support India’s markets are important right now because of the initial public offering of Life Insurance Corporation of India, a state-owned behemoth that the government needs to list by end-March to meet budget revenue targets. Officials said on Thursday that the situation in Ukraine wouldn’t impact the IPO.


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