Indian shares kick off 2021 with gains; IT stocks rise

BENGALURU, Jan 1 (Reuters) - Indian shares opened higher on the first trading session of the new year, a day after the Nifty 50 index ended 2020 with gains of nearly 15%, as a jump in IT services stocks lifted the main indexes.

The blue chip NSE Nifty 50 index rose 0.24% to 14,015.90 on Friday and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.23% to 47,860.77 by 0349 GMT.

The Nifty gained 14.9% in 2020, its best yearly performance since 2017, while the Sensex gained 15.75%. Both the indexes recovered more than 86% from a virus-driven crash in March, boosted by liquidity support measures from global central banks and progress on COVID-19 vaccines.

Investors are eyeing Indian drug regulator’s meeting on Friday to consider approving AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

Among individual shares, Mahindra and Mahindra rose 1.8%. U.S.-automaker Ford Motor and Mahindra have called off their automotive joint venture due to challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

InterGlobe Aviation, the parent company of India's largest airline, IndiGo, fell 1.2%. The company on Thursday disclosed that some of IndiGo's servers were hacked earlier this month.

Most Asian markets and the U.S. market is closed for the new year holiday.

Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V