Indian shares near record highs as parts of country ease lockdowns

BENGALURU, June 7 (Reuters) - Indian shares rose on Monday to hover near the record highs hit in the previous session, as some states eased lockdowns and daily COVID-19 cases in the country hit a two-month low.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index climbed 0.29% to 15,715.55 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex added 0.17% to 52,187.10 by 0446 GMT. Last week, both the indexes rose more than 1% each to notch their third straight weekly gain.

Energy and auto stocks also supported the Nifty 50 index, with the Nifty Energy index rising 1.29% and the Nifty Auto index jumping 1.07%.

“With lockdowns getting lifted and the economy coming back to normal, we remain optimistic on the market,” said Samrat Dasgupta, chief executive of Esquire Capital Investment Advisors.

While India’s capital city New Delhi announced a partial easing of a lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat relaxed curbs on commercial activities.

The country’s richest state of Maharashtra, which saw the most infections during the second wave, plans to start easing in stages this week from a strict lockdown imposed in April.

Daily COVID-19 cases in India have seen a downward trend since early-May, with data over the weekend showing that fresh infections stayed below the 200,000-mark for over a week. On Monday, it reported 100,636 new cases, the lowest in two months.

Among other stocks, Bajaj Finance Ltd fell 4.3% and was the top drag to the Nifty 50. The company said last week it expects the second COVID-19 wave impacting growth in assets under management of 40 billion rupees ($549.77 million) - 50 billion Indian rupees ($687.21 million) for the fiscal year 2022. ($1 = 72.7575 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)