Indian shares hit record highs as COVID-19 restrictions ease

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BENGALURU — Indian shares hit record highs on Friday, fueled by financials and energy stocks, as more states eased pandemic restrictions, with investors confident that high U.S. inflation was transitory following the latest reading.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index rose 0.51% to 15,819.45 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex added 0.56% to 52,595.48 by 0455 GMT. Both the indexes are set to post their fourth straight weekly gain.

“The debate over the nature of inflation in the U.S. — whether transitory or structural — continues. ..For now, the market is strongly on the side of equity bulls who believe that the high inflation is transitory and will soon stabilize,” V K Vijayakumar, chief investment strategist at Geojit Financial Services, said in a note.

U.S. consumer price index data released on Thursday fitted in with Federal Reserve’s repeated assertion that higher inflation will be transitory, offering relief to global stock markets.

Meanwhile, daily cases of the novel coronavirus in India stayed below the 100,000-mark for a fourth straight day, with the health ministry’s data on Friday showing 91,702 new infections.

The southern Indian state of Karnataka, home to the tech hub Bengaluru, announced on Thursday it would ease some pandemic curbs in a phased manner.

The country’s richest state Maharashtra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat and the Indian capital New Delhi have already announced similar relaxations.

In Mumbai trading, Reliance Industries Ltd and HDFC Ltd gained 1.5% and 1.1%, respectively. Shares of Reliance have risen in five of the last eight trading sessions.

Investors now look to India’s industrial output data for April, which will be released later in the day. (Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)