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Sensex, Nifty close at near nine-month high as banks rally on SBI earnings

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian shares closed at their highest level since mid-February on Thursday as strong earnings from the country’s biggest lender State Bank of India (SBI) boosted banks, with metal and energy stocks adding to the gains.

FILE PHOTO: People walk past the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai, India, November 4, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File photo

The NSE Nifty 50 index rose 1.78% to close above the 12,000-mark for the first time since Feb. 20. The S&P BSE Sensex ended 1.78% higher at 41,340.16.

SBI on Wednesday reported an upbeat September-quarter profit and said it expected stronger annual credit growth, sending its shares 5.6% higher and lifting the Nifty banking index by 2.1%.

The banking index rose for a fourth straight session, extending a rally that started after private-sector lender ICICI Bank reported a higher profit last week.

“Banking results and the management commentary has been quite encouraging,” said Naveen Kulkarni, chief investment officer at Axis Securities Ltd.

“Banks are also more willing to lend since the macro situation has improved. Their challenges seem to be manageable now.”

The Nifty metals index rose 4.4%. Tata Steel gained 5.1% and miner Hindalco climbed 6%.

Refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp rose 9.9% after it reported on Wednesday a quarterly profit that beat estimates.

HPCL’s rival Bharat Petroleum Corp gained 5.3%, helping the Nifty energy index rise 2.7%, while natural gas explorer GAIL (India) was up 5%.

Oil-to-telecoms conglomerate and India’s most valuable company Reliance Industries rose 2.3%.

Broader Asian markets were higher as investors awaited a clear result from the U.S. election, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbing 2% to its highest since February 2018.

Reporting by Derek Francis in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni