Indian shares rise as financials rebound, daily COVID-19 cases fall

BENGALURU, May 21 (Reuters) - Indian shares gained on Friday, helped by a rebound in financial stocks ahead of State Bank of India’s quarterly results, and as new coronavirus infections remained below the 300,000 mark for a fifth straight day.

By 0505 GMT, the blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index had gained 1.17% to 15,080.95, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex was up 1.23% at 50,174.02.

Daily coronavirus cases in India have fallen over the past few days after hitting a record of more than 414,000 earlier this month.

“Chances are very high now that lockdown restrictions in most states will start going away,” said Gaurav Garg, head of research, CapitalVia Global Research.

“Companies which are directly impacted by lockdowns, like auto, realty and banking, are going to see a lot of buying.”

In Mumbai trading, the Nifty Bank Index rose 2.1% after a more than 1% drop on Thursday, while the Nifty Realty Index gained 2.07%.

Private-sector lenders HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank were the top boosts to the Nifty 50.

State Bank of India rose 1.5% ahead of its March-quarter results. The country’s largest lender by assets is expected to report a jump in net profit.

The Nifty energy index climbed 0.85%, helped by a 4.5% rise in state-run refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd on higher quarterly net profit.

Fellow refiners and Nifty 50 components Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd gained as much as 2.9% and 2.1%, respectively.

Investor sentiment was also helped by a rise in broader Asian markets, following overnight gains on Wall Street as fears receded about inflation and an early tapering of stimulus by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu