Indian shares rise as daily COVID-19 cases fall; GDP data eyed

BENGALURU, May 31 (Reuters) - Indian shares on Monday extended last week’s rally as declining COVID-19 cases buoyed investor sentiment ahead of GDP data for the first three months of the year.

The NSE Nifty 50 index rose 0.44% to 15,503.70 by 0515 GMT, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex climbed 0.55% to 51,1702.53. Both the indexes posted weekly gains of around 2% each, with the Nifty 50 closing at a record high on Friday.

“Today’s (Monday) gains are on the back of tailwinds from last week and declining COVID-19 cases, and with expectation that the momentum will stay,” said Anand James, chief market strategist at Geojit Financial Services.

The country was set to announce GDP data at 1200 GMT, with economists saying economic growth likely picked up in the January-March quarter, the fourth quarter of the previous fiscal year, but expressed pessimism about the period after a harsh second wave of COVID-19 hit the country last month.

Conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd and ICICI Bank Ltd were the top boosts to the Nifty 50, gaining 2.5% and 2.1%, respectively. Reliance, which ended 6% higher on Friday, has risen in the last five trading sessions out of eight.

India on Monday reported its lowest daily increase in new COVID-19 infections since April 11 at 152,734, while deaths rose by 3,128.

In the broader Asian markets, shares were trying to extend their recent rally to a third week in the hope that U.S. jobs figures show the expected revival in hiring in May and keep the global recovery on track.

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