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Indian shares post record closing highs in catch-up trade

BENGALURU, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Indian shares notched record closing highs on Tuesday, playing catch-up with overseas gains after a long holiday weekend and bolstered by news that U.S. drugmaker Moderna Inc’s coronavirus vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing infection.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index ended up 0.74% at 12,874.20, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex closed 0.72% higher at 43,952.71.

Markets had eked out modest gains in a one-hour special “muhurat” trading session for Diwali on Saturday, and were closed on Monday.

Moderna Inc became the second drugmaker after Pfizer Inc to announce promising trial data in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, pushing global markets higher.

Moderna’s vaccine is expected to be stable at normal fridge temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 48°F) for 30 days, making it easier for storage and transportation than Pfizer’s vaccine.

Indian equities have gained more than 10% so far in November, helped by signs of a demand recovery, a strong earnings season, and higher fund inflows.

Daily coronavirus infections in the country have also been falling since hitting a peak in September, and cases in the last 24 hours rose by their lowest since mid-July.

In Mumbai, the Nifty Bank Index closed 2.05% higher and the Nifty Metal Index ended up 2.49%.

HDFC Bank Ltd was the top boost to the Nifty, rising 2.8%.

Tata Steel Ltd closed 6.2% higher after the company late on Friday said it was in talks with Swedish steelmaker SSAB to sell its Dutch steel mill and related assets. (Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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