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Indian shares rise as SBI holds gains, daily COVID-19 cases decline

BENGALURU, May 24 (Reuters) - Indian shares rose on Monday as heavyweight State Bank of India continued to climb following its quarterly results last week, and the country’s daily COVID-19 cases stayed below the 300,000-mark for more than a week.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index was up 0.33% at 0.33 at 15,222.40 by 0459 GMT, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.38% at 50,706.87. Both the indexes rose more than 3% last week.

The Nifty PSU bank index advanced the most among sub-indexes early on Monday, rising 2.3%. State Bank of India boosted the index, gaining as much as 4.5%.

Aiding sentiment, data from the health ministry showed daily cases of the novel coronavirus in India stayed below the 300,000 for the eighth straight day on Monday, well below a record of more than 414,000 earlier this month.

Shares of Natco Pharma jumped 20% after the drug maker on Friday began phase III clinical trials of Molnupiravir capsules For COVID-19 treatment.

In the broader Asian markets, shares got off to a cautious start as investors awaited key U.S. inflation readings for guidance on monetary policy, while Bitcoin took a hammering after China cracked down on mining and trading of the cryptocurrency.

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

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