Indian shares rise on plans to ease travel curbs; airlines gainIndian shares rise on plans to ease travel curbs; airlines gain
Brokers trade on computer terminals at a stock brokerage firm in Mumbai

By Sachin Ravikumar

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Indian shares rose on Thursday for the third straight session, as the government said it plans to ease curbs on air and rail travel, in a further relaxation of a two-month coronavirus lockdown that has bruised the economy.

As thousands of Indians go jobless and companies are starved of revenue, India has been easing lockdown curbs every few weeks, encouraging markets which view the relaxations as the first steps to an eventual recovery in Asia’s third-largest economy.

India on Wednesday announced a resumption of some domestic flights from May 25, two months after they were grounded, and a graded restoration of train services from June 1.

“At least now, the government is thinking of opening up the economy,” said A.K. Prabhakar, head of research at IDBI Capital in Mumbai. “Livelihood is just as important as life. That is the thinking.”

Still, India’s economic outlook remained grim as analysts continued to slash their gross domestic product (GDP) forecasts. Moody’s unit ICRA projected a 5% fall in GDP for 2020-21, steeper than its earlier estimate of a 1%-2% decline.

“Companies are not going to return to the new normal very soon. If you have to maintain social distancing and do business, it is not going to be easy,” Prabhakar said.

The NSE Nifty 50 index <.NSEI> was up 0.91% at 9,148.70 by 0515 GMT, while the S&P BSE Sensex <.BSESN> was 0.93% higher at 31,103.95.

The Nifty 50 was on course to gain for a third straight day, recouping some of the recent losses after India’s economic relief measures disappointed markets.

Interglobe Aviation Ltd <INGL.NS>, which runs India’s largest airline IndiGo, jumped 12.6%, while second-biggest carrier SpiceJet <SPJT.NS> climbed 4.9% and hit an upper circuit.

Bajaj Auto Ltd <BAJA.NS> rose 4.1% after better-than-expected March-quarter results. HDFC Bank <HDBK.NS> and Reliance Industries Ltd <RELI.NS> gained 2.8% and 1.8% respectively.

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)