Indian shares gain as COVID-19 cases fall, tech stocks jump

BENGALURU, Aug 17 (Reuters) – Indian shares inched higher on Tuesday, as gains in technology stocks and falling domestic cases of COVID-19 helped investors look past losses in banks as well as concerns around global economic growth.

By 0518 GMT, the blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index was up 0.10% at 16,579.85, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.12% to 55,647.82.

The Nifty IT index climbed 1.16%, led by Tech Mahindra’s 3.41% jump, as the sector continued to be buoyed by positive earnings announcements and its lower exposure to the effects of COVID-19.

“First, the IT sector has not been impacted at all by COVID-19, and the entire work-from-home alignment for this sector happened early,” Anita Gandhi, director at Arihant Capital Markets in Mumbai, said adding that it was the IT sector that aided in functioning of the economy.

Aiding sentiment, new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported at 25,166 on Tuesday, marking a sharp drop from their peaks of more than 400,000 cases a day during the second wave of the pandemic a few months ago.

“The domestic COVID-19 situation is quite unlike the global one, with Indian states continuing to unlock. Markets are taking comfort from this, and it’s continuing to boost sentiment,” said Ajit Mishra, VP, research at Religare Broking, Noida.

Meanwhile, analysts said they were closely watching the Nifty Bank index, which fell 0.74% to be an underperformer to the broader Nifty index.

Auto parts maker Fiem Industries rose as much as 20%, its biggest gain in more than a decade after saying that it added Ola Electric as a customer.

Among global markets, Asian shares declined over Delta variant concerns and the turmoil in Afghanistan, while Wall Street rebounded overnight, with the benchmark S&P 500 and the Dow industrials hitting record highs.

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