By Soumyajit Saha

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Indian shares bounced back from a near three-month low to end higher on Thursday as investors looked beyond a massive surge in COVID-19 infections to progress on vaccinations, with metals and bank stocks leading the gains.

The NSE Nifty 50 index rose 0.77% to 14,406.15 at close, while the S&P BSE Sensex gained 0.79% to end at 48,080.67.

“There is a strong buying sentiment in the market … (investors) may be looking beyond the rising cases and restrictions, as other countries vaccinate and open up,” said AK Prabhakar, head of research at IDBI bank.

“The government is also trying to provide more incentives for private players to ramp up production of vaccines, which is good,” he added.

U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc on Thursday said it was in talks with the Indian government for supply of its vaccines, adding it would set a not-for-profit price for them.

India on Thursday reported over 300,000 fresh coronavirus infections, the highest daily rise anywhere in the world, while deaths from COVID-19 also jumped by a record even as the country reported widespread shortages of medical oxygen.

Meanwhile Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, the local distributor for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines, told Reuters they would start reaching India by end-May.

Metal stocks rose 1.7%, with Tata Steel gaining 3.1% after its unit Tata Steel BSL reported a jump in quarterly net profit.

Private-sector banks rose 1.8%, with heavyweight HDFC Bank Ltd gaining 2.2%. The sub-index had fallen nearly 5% so far in April.

Media stocks were also higher, with shares of TV18 Broadcast jumping 19.4% after it reported its March-quarter profit had more than doubled.

Consumer goods stocks dropped 0.7% to fall for the third consecutive session, with Hindustan Unilever driving the losses on the benchmark index with a 2% drop.

(Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)