This article investigates whether economic variables have explanatory power for share returns in South Asian stock markets. In particular, using data for four South Asian emerging stock markets over the period 1998–2012, the article examines the influence of a selection of local, regional and global economic variables in explaining equity returns; most previous studies that have examined this issue have tended to focus on only local and/or global factors. Important factors are identified by distilling the macroeconomic variables into principal components. Economic activities, real interest rates, real exchange rates and the trade balance represent local factors. Regional factors are represented by interregional trade and regional economic activity while global factors are represented by world financial asset returns and world economic activity. The vector autoregression results suggest that the South Asian markets examined are not efficient. Both local and regional factors can directly and indirectly explain Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Sri Lankan stock returns while the lagged returns of the Pakistani stock market and world economic activity can explain Indian stock returns.
- South Asian stock returns
- local economic factors
- international economic factors
- Principal components analysis