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India's Nifty at 2-month high as COVID-19 cases continue to decline

BENGALURU, May 18 (Reuters) - India’s blue-chip Nifty index closed at a two-month high on Tuesday, boosted by banking stocks, as daily coronavirus cases declined for a fifth straight day.

The NSE Nifty 50 index rose 1.24% to close at 15,108.10, and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex also rose 1.24% to 50,193.33. Last week, they lost 0.9% each.

Daily COVID-19 cases in the world’s second-worst pandemic-hit country rose by 263,533, remaining below the 300,000 mark first seen on Monday since April 21. However, deaths rose by a record 4,329.

“The rise (on Tuesday) can be attributed to a decline in India’s COVID cases and stability in the global markets,” said Ajit Mishra, head of research at Religare Broking Ltd

“Banking and auto have witnessed decent traction in the last two sessions after underperforming for nearly a month or two. Indications are in the favor of prevailing up move to continue thus we suggest continuing with the ‘buy on dips’ approach,” he added.

The Indian rupee on Tuesday strengthened above the 73 per dollar level since end-March. It was last quoted at 73.0450 rupees against the dollar.

Tata Motors Ltd closed 3.5% higher, ahead of its quarterly results.

Bharti Airtel Ltd extended losses to end 2.4% lower after reporting quarterly results on Monday.

Globally, shares rose and the dollar dipped to near three-month lows as bets that U.S. interest rates would remain low helped investors look past rising COVID-19 infections in Asia.

Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

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