Indian shares end at record high as some COVID-19 curbs ease

BENGALURU, June 7 (Reuters) - Indian shares ended at a record high on Monday, buoyed by hopes that the economy would return to normal as some states eased lockdowns, with daily COVID-19 cases hitting a two-month low.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index climbed 0.52% to 15,751.65 at close, and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex added 0.44% to 52,328.51. Both the indexes rose more than 1% last week to notch their third straight weekly gain.

Energy and information technology stocks also supported the Nifty 50 index, with the Nifty Energy index rising 1.85% and the Nifty IT index jumping 1.11%.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address the nation at 1130 GMT.

India’s capital city of New Delhi partially eased a lockdown, while Modi’s home state of Gujarat also 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.

As a result, cinema chain operators PVR Ltd and INOX Leisure Ltd closed 3.3% and 3.5% higher, respectively, sending the Nifty Media index up 1.16%.

Daily COVID-19 cases in India have been on 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.

Shares of Central Bank of India closed nearly 8% higher while Indian Overseas Bank finished up 11.7%. A local media report said the government may sell its stake in the banks as part of a big-ticket privatisation plan unveiled during the union budget in February. ( ($1 = 72.7575 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)