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RPT-Indian shares rise with financials in lead as COVID-19 cases fall

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BENGALURU, May 17 (Reuters) - Indian shares rose on Monday as market sentiment improved after domestic coronavirus cases fell below the 300,000 mark for the first time since April 21, with financials rebounding from a sharp drop in the previous session.

The NSE Nifty 50 index climbed 0.82% to 14,798.55 by 0505 GMT, up after three straight sessions of falls, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex advanced 0.93% to 49,191.68.

Last week, both indexes lost 0.9% after worries over higher U.S. inflation triggered a sell-off in global markets.

“The decline in the speed of new cases is helping domestic markets,” said Narendra Solanki, head of equity research (fundamental) at Anand Rathi Investment Services.

“At this rate, lockdowns might not continue for too long and investor sentiment is upbeat.”

India reported 281,386 new coronavirus infections over the last 24 hours, the lowest since April 21, helped by extended lockdowns in some states.

Most sectors were trading higher, led by a 2.24% rise in the Nifty PSU Bank index. On Friday, the sub-index had slid 2%.

Private sector lenders HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank were the top boosts to the Nifty, adding nearly 1% each.

The Nifty IT index was up 0.2% after rising as much as 0.71% earlier supported by a 1.4% climb in IT major Infosys.

Automotive components maker Automotive Axles soared nearly 16% after reporting a jump in quarterly profit.

Nifty component Bharti Airtel was down as much as 1.67% ahead of its March-quarter results.

Meanwhile, Asian equities were mixed as data on Chinese retail sales missed expectations though industrial output stayed solid, while more evidence of global inflation pressures helped gold scale a more than three-month high. (Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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