July 21, 2020 / 4:19 AM / 14 days ago

Virus vaccine hopes push Indian stocks higher for fifth session

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian stocks closed higher for a fifth straight session on Tuesday, hitting a more than four-month peak, as hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine being available as early as this year offset fears over surging domestic coronavirus cases.

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 index closed up 1.27% at 11,162.25, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex ended 1.37% higher at 37,930.33, led by financial and energy stocks.

Stock markets across the world rallied on a European Union stimulus package to counter the economic impact of the pandemic and on hopes that vaccines against the COVID-19 disease might be ready by the end of year.

The news of the vaccine helped offset concerns over a surge in cases in Asia’s third-largest economy to 1.16 million as of Tuesday morning, including 28,084 deaths, according to government data https://www.mohfw.gov.in.

The Nifty energy index rose 3.46% and was the top percentage gainer among sectors, with refiners Indian Oil Corp and Bharat Petroleum Corp gaining over 5% each.

The Nifty PSU Bank Index, which tracks state-owned lenders rose as much as 3.5%, after Reuters reported that India is looking to privatise more than half of its state-owned banks.

Bank of India surged 7%, while Central Bank of India jumped 8.6%. Private-sector lender ICICI Bank Ltd rose 4.4%.

Insurers SBI Life gained nearly 4%, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance rose 1.5% and HDFC Life advanced 1.8% after the companies reported a rise in profit for the quarter to June.

Shadow lender Bajaj Finance fell 4% after the company reported a fall in quarterly profit and after its chairman Rahul Bajaj stepped down.

The Nifty pharma index was the biggest laggard among sectors, falling 1.5%.

Reporting by Derek Francis in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber

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