Financials, banks boost Indian shares to best day in more than two weeks

FILE PHOTO: A bird flies past a screen displaying the Sensex results on the facade of BSE building in Mumbai

By Sethuraman N R and Hritam Mukherjee

BENGALURU (Reuters) -Indian benchmarks settled at record closing highs on Tuesday, posting their best day in more than two weeks, lifted by a surge in heavyweight financial and bank stocks that have lagged sectoral peers so far this year.

The NSE Nifty 50 index added 0.8% at 23721.3, while the S&P BSE Sensex advanced 0.9% to 78053.5, as of 03:30 p.m. IST.

Financials gained roughly 2% and banks rose 1.7%. The two indexes were the top sectoral percentage gainers.

Private lender HDFC Bank, the heaviest stock on the benchmark Nifty, climbed 2.3%. Peer ICICI Bank, whose market capitalisation crossed $100 billion, closed at a record high.

The outperformance in banking stocks is the primary boost to markets, which are lacking any major domestic trigger, said Ajit Mishra, senior vice president, research, at Religare Broking.

Analysts said that financials and banks will continue to see buying as they have been laggards this year, with their 9% rise well below the 24%-43% jump in metals, autos and realty stocks.

The benchmark Nifty 50 index has surged 8.4% from the dip seen on June 4, in a post-election rally.

Among individual stocks, battery maker Amara Raja Energy and Mobility soared 19% after inking a licensing deal with a unit of China-based Gotion High Tech.

Amara's gains pushed domestically-focussed small-caps to close 0.14% higher, after the gauge hit a record high earlier.

Automobile parts maker Craftsman Automation surged 13% on plans to acquire aluminium die-cast parts maker Sunbeam Lightweighting Solutions.

On the flip side, Bandhan Bank fell 2.2% after the Reserve Bank of India appointed a director to the lender's board, a move generally seen as an increase in oversight of a bank's operations.

"We will see more stock-specific moves in the small- and mid-caps. This will keep happening until the quarterly earnings season," Neeraj Dewan, director at Quantum Securities said.

(Reporting by Sethuraman NR and Hritam Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza, Janane Venkatraman and Mrigank Dhaniwala)