May 7, 2020 / 4:21 AM / a month ago

Sensex, Nifty rise on Reliance boost, but end week sharply lower

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Gains in Reliance Industries boosted Indian shares on Friday, but they ended the week sharply lower as coronavirus cases continued to spiral and markets awaited an economic stimulus.

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective mask walks past the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai, India, March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File photo

The NSE Nifty 50 nearly halved its gains from the morning session to settle 0.57% higher at 9,251.50 on Friday. The S&P BSE Sensex closed 0.63% higher at 31,642.70.

The gains were in line with global shares, which rallied amid signs of improving Sino-American relations and optimism around more governments reopening their economies.

Shares in oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd surged 3.6%, giving the biggest boost to the Nifty 50, after it unveiled another sizeable investment into its digital arm.

Hindustan Unilever Ltd gained 4.9% after a 1% decline on Thursday.

A late 0.71% decline in the Nifty banking index sapped gains on the Nifty 50. Axis Bank fell 3.9%. Banking stocks have been volatile, with the sector bracing for a fresh bout of bad debt as the coronavrius causes defaults.

Shares in SBI Cards, which went public in March in a highly awaited listing that flopped because of the coronavirus, fell 2.2% after its first financial results as a public company.

The credit card of arm of India’s largest lender State Bank of India reported a 66% fall in March-quarter profit and set aside a COVID-19-related provision of $65 million for expected credit losses.

The Nifty 50 and Sensex have shed roughly 6% this week, as global markets fell due to U.S.-China tensions and India’s coronavirus cases continued to rise despite a strict weeks-long lockdown.

“(The Sensex fell) in the current week as market participants worried about repercussions on various sectors due to lockdown extensions offloaded their holdings,” said Sanjeev Zarbade, a vice president at Kotak Securities in Mumbai.

India is expected to announce an economic stimulus to help businesses battered by the lockdown, but its exact timing remains unclear.

BofA economists on Friday predicted the government may unveil fiscal stimulus amounting to 0.3% of the country’s gross domestic product, focusing on small- and medium-sized businesses, real estate firms and banks.

Coronavirus cases in India crossed 50,000 this week in a steady rise, and the number of deaths reached 1,886 as of Friday.

Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Maju Samuel

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