Financials, metals boost Indian shares amid earnings rush

People walk past the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai

By Bharath Rajeswaran

BENGALURU (Reuters) -Financials and metals led Indian shares to close higher on Thursday, with a slate of strong earnings and sustained buying by foreign investors helping the market temporarily look past inflation related comments from U.S. Fed Chair Powell.

The Nifty 50 closed 0.92% higher to 18,255.80, while the S&P BSE Sensex gained 0.91% to 61,749.25. Both the benchmarks closed at four-month highs.

Barring fast moving consumer goods, all the other 12 major sectoral indexes advanced, with high weightage financials climbing 1.55%. The rise in financials index was supported by 2.67% jump in Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd on rise in profit in March quarter.

Metals gained 1.22% as a weaker dollar boosted metal prices. Twelve of the 15 constituents of the metal index logged gains. [MET/L]

The Fed raised rates by a quarter of a percentage point on Wednesday. While the rate hike was priced in, Fed chair Jerome Powell reiterated that inflation remained the chief concern of the U.S. central bank and there is no certainty that the rate-hike cycle is over. [MKTS/GLOB]

"It seems like this is the last rate hike," said Hemang Jani, head of equity strategy, broking and distribution at Motilal Oswal Financial Services.

"Expect the Fed rate hike to not have a material impact on India due to RBI's rate pause and weakness in crude oil prices."

Brent crude futures hovered around $73 per barrel, on global demand concerns. Both Brent and WTI crude have lost 10% since the start of the week.

The fall in oil prices is a positive for importers of the commodity like India, where crude constitutes a significant share of the country's import bill. [O/R]

Aiding the domestic equities is also the recent return of the foreign institutional investors to Indian equities. FIIs have bought 95.49 billion rupees of equities over the last five sessions.

($1 = 81.6740 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Bharath Rajeswaran in Bengaluru; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee)