January 18, 2018 / 5:36 AM / a year ago

Indian shares hit record highs as banks rally

* NSE index up 0.80 pct, BSE index 1.13 pct higher

* Nifty bank index hits record high

* Global markets rally boosts sentiment

By Jessica Kuruthukulangara

Jan 18 (Reuters) - Indian shares scaled new peaks on Thursday, tracking global markets, with banking stocks contributing the most to gains amid expectations that the government would increase the foreign investment limits for banks.

The government is considering raising the foreign investment ceiling in private banks to 100 percent and in public lenders to 49 percent, according to media reports.

The rally in banks was also supported by the government’s decision on Wednesday to trim additional market borrowing by 60 percent for the ongoing fiscal year ending March.

Asian stocks touched record highs as well, with a rally on Wall Street supporting bullish investor sentiment. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose as much as 0.4 percent.

A rally in global markets and the expectation of relaxation of foreign investment norms in banks are working together to lift the indexes, said Deepak Jasani, head of retail research at HDFC Securities.

The broader NSE index was up 0.80 percent at 10,875.30 as of 0515 GMT, while the benchmark BSE index was 1.13 percent higher at 35,478.74.

The Nifty bank index gained as much as 2.3 percent to hit a record, the fourth time it has done so this week.

HDFC Bank Ltd rose as much as 3.4 percent to touch an all-time high. ICICI Bank Ltd gained 2.9 percent, while State Bank of India was up 3.5 percent.

MindTree Ltd rose as much as 10 percent to its highest level in over 20 months after posting a 37 percent jump in its December-quarter consolidated net profit.

Hindustan Unilever Ltd climbed as much as 2.6 percent to hit a record high after the consumer goods maker posted better-than-expected Q3 profit.

Bharti Infratel, however, slid as much as 4.2 percent to its lowest in one month after reporting a 5.6 percent fall quarterly profit, below analysts’ estimates. (Reporting by Jessica Kuruthukulangara in Bengaluru; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)

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