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India's Sensex surpasses 53,000-mark as COVID-19 vaccinations surge

BENGALURU, June 22 (Reuters) - A record daily surge in COVID-19 vaccinations powered India’s benchmark stock index on Tuesday past the 53,000-level for the first time ever, with the blue-chip Nifty 50 also hovering close to its all-time high.

The S&P BSE Sensex was up 0.82% at 53,013.20 by 0509 GMT, while the NSE Nifty 50 index rose 0.87% to 15,883.95.

India administered a record 8.3 million vaccine doses on Monday under a federal campaign to inoculate all adults for free. Experts have said widespread vaccination remains one of the best tools to avoid the kind of devastation India saw during its second wave of the pandemic.

Declining cases and easing of pandemic-induced restrictions have also contributed to both the indexes gaining more than 1.7% so far this month.

There’s a lot of activity in sectors seen benefiting from the opening up of economies, such as autos and construction-related ones like cement, said Shrikant Chouhan, executive vice-president of equity research at Kotak Securities in Mumbai. “Because of that we are seeing a lot of momentum in the market.”

The Nifty Auto Index gained 1.75%. Jefferies also said in a research note on Tuesday that India’s auto demand is recovering again.

Maruti Suzuki was the top percentage gainer on the Nifty 50, jumping 4.1%.

Nifty 50 components Shree Cement and UltraTech Cement rose 2.2% and 1.5%, respectively, while construction giant Larsen & Toubro added 2%.

Helping sentiment, broader Asian markets bounced from four-week lows as investors’ focus on economic growth partly offset worries about any near-term rise in U.S. interest rates.

Eyes will also be on U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s appearance before Congress later in the day, for more clarity on the central bank’s surprise hawkish shift last week. (Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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