Sensex, Nifty close at record highs as India approves COVID-19 vaccines

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Indian shares notched record closing highs on Monday for a second straight session of the new year, as investor sentiment lifted after the country gave emergency use approvals to two coronavirus vaccines over the weekend.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks out of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai, India, February 28, 2020. REUTERS/Hemanshi Kamani/File Photo

The Nifty ended up 0.82% at 14,132.90, while the benchmark Sensex firmed 0.64% to 48,176.80, marking its first close above the 48,000 level.

India, which has the second-highest number of coronavirus infections in the world, on Sunday approved for emergency use two coronavirus vaccines – one developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and the other by local company Bharat Biotech.

The country is expected to start a massive immunisation program within a week. Serum Institute of India, the local maker of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, intends to meet the nation’s demand first before exporting its vaccine.

Separately, a private survey on Monday showed India’s factory sector activity strengthened in December, as manufacturers boosted production to meet rising demand.

In Mumbai trading, the Nifty IT index closed 2.67% higher, with heavyweight Tata Consultancy Services being the biggest boost to the Nifty 50.

Rail coach and mining equipment maker BEML ended up 3.2%. The government has invited initial bids from private firms for a 26% stake in the company.

Jindal Steel and Power gained 6.5% after the company reported an increase in production and sales for December and the third quarter.

Marico closed 2.7% higher after the beauty and wellness product maker said its India business saw double-digit volume growth in the third quarter, and that it was maintaining an optimistic outlook for the rest of the year.

Global markets hit record highs on hopes that the rollout of coronavirus vaccines will eventually help revive the global economy.

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