Banks lift Indian shares after top court rejects loan moratorium extension

BENGALURU, March 23 (Reuters) - Indian shares closed higher on Tuesday, boosted by bank stocks after India’s top court rejected pleas for extending moratorium on bank loan repayments in a major relief to the sector.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index ended up 0.5% at 14,814.75 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.6% to 50,051.

India’s top court on Tuesday refused to extend a six-month moratorium on loan repayments that ended on Aug. 31 last year. The Reserve Bank of India had allowed banks to offer the moratorium after a government-imposed COVID-19 lockdown.

The ruling lifted Nifty bank index as much as 2.07% and the public sector bank index by as much as 3.93%. The Nifty bank index had fallen over 5% in the past six sessions.

“The ruling is certainly in favour of banks. It needs to be seen how this will impact the earnings in the coming quarter. That’s something the markets will keep a close eye on,” said Ajit Mishra, vice president, research, at Religare Broking.

Shares of Adani Ports And Special Economic Zone rose 4.6% after the company said it would buy 58.1% stake in Gangavaram Port for 36.04 billion rupees ($497.82 million).

Maruti Suzuki India gained 1.2% after the carmaker said on Monday it would raise prices for various models in April due to a rise in input costs. Shares of Insecticides (India) rose as much as 14.31% after the agro chemical maker said it would consider a share buyback proposal at a board meeting on March 30.

Meanwhile, the Indian government said that everybody above 45 years would be eligible for coronavirus vaccination from April 1, expanding its vaccination programme as infections surge again. ($1 = 72.3950 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)