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Indian shares mark best day in a month on earnings cheer

BENGALURU, April 28 (Reuters) - Indian shares closed sharply higher on Wednesday as financial and auto stocks surged following a set of strong quarterly results, with motorbike maker TVS Motor clocking its best session in more than one-and-a-half years.

The NSE Nifty 50 index jumped 1.44% to 14,864.55, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex climbed 1.61% to 49,733.84. Both indexes saw their best day since March 30 and marked three straight sessions of gains, following a pandemic-led slump in recent weeks.

Even as domestic coronavirus cases surged and deaths crossed a grim milestone of 200,000, investors have turned their focus to strong March-quarter results as analysts believe companies may not take a hit like they did last year.

“We expect markets to look beyond the short term on cases peaking, vaccine approvals/expansion,” BofA research analyst Amish Shah said in a note.

Shadow bank Bajaj Finance closed 8.6% higher following a jump in its March-quarter profit. The company was the top percentage gainer on the Nifty 50. Bajaj Finserv jumped 3.9% after its results.

The Nifty Bank index advanced 3%, with top lender HDFC Bank rising 2.7%.

TVS Motor Co shares added 14% after the company’s March-quarter profit nearly tripled and beat estimates. The Nifty Auto index was up 1.7%.

India’s deadly battle with the coronavirus has overwhelmed its healthcare system and forced several states to enter a lockdown. Maharashtra, home to the financial capital Mumbai, said on Wednesday it may extend its lockdown till mid-May.

Earlier on Wednesday, S&P Global Ratings said the second COVID-19 wave in India poses downside risks to GDP and heightens the possibility of business disruptions, adding that the high number of infections presents a “significant contagion risk” to other geographies. (Reporting by Chris Thomas and Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Ramakrishnan M.)

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