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Indian shares end higher on financials boost, drop in daily virus cases

BENGALURU, May 21 (Reuters) - Indian shares closed higher on Friday, as financial stocks jumped after State Bank of India’s (SBI) quarterly earnings, with sentiment aided by a fall in daily COVID-19 infections.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index added 1.81% to close at 15,175.30, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex gained 1.97% to end at 50,540.80. For the week, both the indexes rose more than 3%.

Daily cases of the novel coronavirus in India stayed below the 300,000-mark for the fifth straight day, well below the record of more than 414,000 earlier this month.

“Banks led the charge today, buoyed by SBI earnings... broader market too witnessed good activity as the curve of daily (coronavirus) cases displayed a declining trend,” said S. Ranganathan, head of research at LKP Securities.

The Nifty Bank Index jumped 3.82% after a more than 1% drop on Thursday, helped by a 4.3% rise in SBI after the country’s largest lender by assets reported a record quarterly profit.

Private-sector lenders HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank were the top boosts to the Nifty 50, closing 4.5% and 3.9% higher, respectively.

The Nifty energy index ended 0.89% higher, boosted by a 3.7% rise in Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd after the state-run refiner reported higher quarterly net profit on Thursday.

The Indian rupee also gained on Friday, tracking the uptick in domestic markets, while the benchmark 10-year bond yield fell for a fifth straight week.

Globally, stocks were steady on Friday after a volatile week, taking their lead from a stronger Wall Street as U.S. data tempered inflation fears, while the dollar approached three-month lows on reduced bets of early Federal Reserve rate hikes.

Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V

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