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India's blue-chip Nifty 50 hits record high as COVID-19 cases drop

BENGALURU, May 28 (Reuters) - India’s blue-chip Nifty 50 index hit a record high on Friday as falling COVID-19 infection rates boosted sentiment, while investors awaited a key indirect tax-related meeting by the country’s finance minister later in the day.

The NSE Nifty 50 index was up 0.68% at 15,440.30 by 0503 GMT, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex was 0.59% higher at 51,417.84. Both the indexes have gained around 2% for the week.

India posted its lowest daily rise in COVID-19 cases in over a month.

“The best news for the economy and markets is coming from the COVID-19 data. This will certainly pave the way for the progressive removal of restrictions on economic activity,” said V.K. Vijayakumar, chief investment strategist at Geojit Financial Services.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will chair the GST Council meeting in the capital, where it is likely to discuss a reduction in the tax rate on COVID-19 medicines and ways to make up for a revenue shortfall in various states, media reports said.

In Mumbai trading, conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd and mortgage lender HDFC Ltd were among the top boosts to the Nifty 50, gaining 3.1% and 1%, respectively. HDFC and Reliance have fallen between 0.4 and 1.3% for the week.

The Nifty energy index rose 1.35%. The Nifty Bank Index and the Nifty PSU Bank Index, which tracks state-run banks, gained between 0.51 and 0.36%.

Nifty component Mahindra & Mahindra was trading 0.8% lower ahead of its March-quarter earnings later in the day.

In the broader Asian market, equities were on course for a seventh day of gains as investors bet the United States will lead the world out of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the focus turning to a multi-trillion dollar spending boost by the Biden administration. (Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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