December 29, 2017 / 8:19 AM / a year ago

Indian shares rise; set for best year since 2014

* NSE index up 0.3 pct, BSE index up 0.4 pct

* RCom zooms over 20 pct

* Indexes on track for 28 pct gain this year

By Vishal Sridhar

Dec 29 (Reuters) - Indian shares rose on Friday tracking broader Asia and were set to end 2017 with the biggest yearly gains in three as strong foreign fund inflows, hopes of an improving economy and higher corporate earnings boosted investor confidence.

Asian markets were firm, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan inching up 0.3 percent.

Equities have been on a record-setting run through the year on optimism that the government would continue its reform agenda after winning elections in the western state of Gujarat.

Foreign investors have net bought Indian stocks worth $7.6 billion so far in the year, according to clearing and exchange data.

“Ever since Gujarat elections, expectations are rising that the upcoming Budget would be rural focused and that is supporting the market sentiment in the near term. Though crude’s spike towards $70 could be a risk,” said Hitesh Agrawal, EVP & Head – Retail Research, Religare Securities Ltd.

The broader NSE index was up 0.34 percent at 10,513.50 as of 0737 GMT, while the benchmark BSE index was 0.44 percent higher at 33,998.31.

Both the indexes, up more than 27 percent each, are on track for a second straight year of gains.

On Friday, shares of Reliance Communications Ltd surged as much as 30 percent to their highest since April 7.

The Anil Ambani-backed company on Thursday agreed to sell its wireless assets to Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, the telecoms arm of elder brother Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd..

Reliance Industries, up 0.8 percent, and Idea Cellular Ltd , up more than 3.5 percent, extended gains for a second straight session.

Meanwhile, shares of Gujarat-based Astron Paper & Board Mill Ltd more than doubled on market debut.

Reporting by Vishal Sridhar in Bengaluru, Additional reporting by Patturaja Murugaboopathy and Tanvi Mehta; Editing by Vyas Mohan

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