Indian shares hit record highs after services sector improves in January

BENGALURU, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Indian shares hit record highs on Wednesday and extended their post-budget rally, after a survey showed the country’s dominant services sector picked up in January as demand improved.

The NSE Nifty 50 index rose 1.07% to 14,804.05 by 0515 GMT, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex was up 1.01% at 50,298.31. Both Nifty and Sensex touched all-time highs after rising 1.2% and 1.1%, respectively.

The Nikkei/IHS Markit Services Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 52.8 in January from 52.3 in December, although firms continued to shed jobs.

The Nifty Pharma index was up 3.2%, led by gains in Dr.Reddy’s after a report said Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine would be granted emergency use authorization in India soon. The drugmaker has a partnership with the Russian Direct Investment Fund to distribute the vaccine in India.

“The mood of the market has changed completely since the budget announcement because of its positive tone ... FPIs (foreign portfolio investors) were net sellers before the budget and that trend has reversed (now)” said Anita Gandhi, director at Arihant Capital Markets in Mumbai.

The Nifty 50 has gained 8.6% so far this week after the government, in its federal budget, unveiled plans to increase spending to revive growth.

Housing Development Finance Corp added 1.5% to be the top boost to the Nifty 50, followed by a 1.5% gain in Infosys Ltd that helped the Nifty IT index gain 1.5%.

Future Retail fell 5% after an Indian court blocked the Future Group’s $3.4 billion retail asset sale to Reliance Industries on objections raised by Inc .

The retailer has filed an appeal against the order, warning that it would be pushed towards filing for insolvency if the deal with Reliance did not go through.

Telecom operator Bharti Airtel rose 2.7% ahead of its quarterly results later in the day. (Reporting by Philip George in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V)