Rural India to Help Stocks Plow Ahead
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(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER, TARA JOSEPH, SAYING: "Tepid growth, soaring inflation, and a wobbly currency - India is not exactly popping off the charts near the end of 2013." Yet the

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(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER, TARA JOSEPH, SAYING: "Tepid growth, soaring inflation, and a wobbly currency - India is not exactly popping off the charts near the end of 2013." Yet the benchmark Sensex has touched record highs propelled by companies with big international businesses, such as Tata Motors. More locally focused companies such as state run banks have had a much bleaker run. That might not be fair given the potential of India's vast rural stretches, home to nearly three quarters of the population. While many associate rural India with grinding poverty, it's actually declining, and consumption of goods - such as mobile phones - is growing faster than in India's teeming cities. Rural India is also getting a fresh boost this year - thanks to heavier than average rainfalls in the monsoon season, which should lift the harvest. One key product gaining traction - tractors. Mahindra and Mahindra, the country's biggest utility vehicle maker saw tractor sales gain 13 percent in November, and it expects the segment to grow close to 20 percent in the current financial year, while auto sales decline. On 5-year basis, the company's shares have outperformed the Sensex and 35 out of 49 analysts tracked by Reuters rate it a buy or strong buy. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER, TARA JOSEPH, SAYING: "So though India's economy may have seen better days - it may be time to take a fresh look at India shares with a countryside connection." ENDS