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Nifty Hits Record Closing High, Sensex Slips

India’s Nifty 50 notched a record closing high on Wednesday, buoyed by hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine and an eventual economic recovery, even though losses in financial stocks amid a top court hearing on loans under moratorium kept gains in check.

The Nifty ended 0.04% higher at 13,113.75, while the benchmark Sensex was down 0.08% at 44,618.04. Both indexes had gained more than 1% on Tuesday, after a sharp rally in November on record inflows from foreign institutional investors.

Progress in a vaccine and hopes for additional U.S. economic stimulus also kept global stocks near record highs on Wednesday. Britain became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use, saying it would start rolling it out early next week.

In Mumbai, a 3.8% jump in paint manufacturer Asian Paints Ltd to record highs, and gains in automakers and IT heavyweights helped the Nifty close in the black.

But losses in top private-sector lender HDFC Bank Ltd and Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd of 1.8% and 3.3%, respectively, limited gains in the Nifty and dragged the Sensex, as investors awaited clarity from the Supreme Court on a case on waiving interest on loans under moratorium.

Banks are hoping the court will allow them to start recognising bad loans and not offer any more reprieve to borrowers.

The Nifty Banking Index, which surged nearly 24% in November, closed 1.2% lower.

An 8.1 billion rupee ($109.81 million) initial public offering by the Indian arm of fast food restaurant chain Burger King was over-subscribed on the first day of bidding, exchange data showed.

The Reserve Bank of India’s monetary policy committee starts its three-day policy meeting on Wednesday, where it is widely expected to hold rates.

($1 = 73.7608 rupees)

Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

Source: Reuters

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