Sensex, Nifty rise as lockdown nears end; financials, pharma boostSensex, Nifty rise as lockdown nears end; financials, pharma boost
A bird flies past the Bombay Stock Exchange building in Mumbai

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Gains in financials and pharmaceutical stocks lifted Indian shares on Tuesday, as the domestic economy limped back into operation following the world’s biggest coronavirus lockdown, even as the number of new cases of the virus climbed steeply.

The NSE Nifty 50 index rose 0.79% to 10,247.8 by 0500 GMT, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex was up 0.82% at 34,651.09. Both indexes are set for their ninth session of gains in 10.

With many major global economies opening up, India reopened shopping malls and restaurants this week, while the number of coronavirus cases continued to accelerate.

The number of new daily cases rose to a new high of almost 10,000 on Tuesday, bringing the total number to 266,598, including 7,466 deaths.

Anand James, chief market strategist at Geojit Financial Services in Kochi, said investors were for now drawing strength from the positive boost for the economy from the government’s easing of the lockdowns.

“Markets are reacting much more to the possibility of the economy opening up compared to rise in infections,” he said.

Deepak Jasani, head of research at HDFC Securities in Mumbai, said there is always a risk of a second lockdown depending on how fast and wide the infections spread.

“It may not be as severe as the first round, but there could be one,” he said. “We opened just yesterday, after 5-7 days of observations markets will decide if this fear needs to be discounted.”

Asian stocks more broadly have rallied for nine straight days, tracking U.S. moves that saw the Nasdaq post a record closing high overnight and become the first major index in a new bull market on hopes of a relatively quick global recovery.

Private-sector lender IndusInd Bank Ltd was the top gainer on the Nifty 50, rising as much as 4.3% to a near four-week high.

Heavyweight mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd climbed 2.5% and was among the top boosts.

Drugmakers Dr.Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd rose around 4% each, pushing the Nifty Pharma Index 2.8% higher.

The index has gained nearly 24% this year, compared with a 16% drop on the Nifty 50.

Cinema chains PVR Ltd and INOX Leisure Ltd slid 4.7% and 7.5%, respectively, after the companies reported losses for the March quarter.

(Reporting by Chris Thomas and Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)