Indian shares ended at a near four-month high on Thursday as positive developments in a coronavirus vaccine trial soothed worries about the rising number of cases at home, while the rupee soared against the US dollar.

The NSE Nifty 50 index ended 1.17 per cent higher at 10,551.7, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex was up 1.21 per cent at 35,843.7, the best closing levels for the indexes since March 6. The rupee ended at 75.01 against the dollar, its best closing level since March 27.

The number of Covid-19 cases in India crossed 600,000, with the death toll touching 17,834, days after the government allowed more economic activities to resume.

Global stock markets were upbeat after a Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech was found to be well tolerated in early-stage human trials, and ahead of data that is expected to show a record rebound in US jobs figures.

However, Mumbai’s benchmark stock indexes are down around 13 per cent for the year so far, even after a sharp recovery from March’s multi-year lows.

Heavily hammered automakers stocks led the rally, with the Nifty Auto Index seeing its best day since June 12.

Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd was the biggest percentage gainer on the Nifty, closing 6.1 per cent firmer at its best close since mid-Feb. Two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp Ltd gained 4.9 per cent to its highest in nearly eight months.

IT stocks gained ground following reports that US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden would lift the temporary suspension of H-1B visas, used by Indian IT professionals if he wins the November elections.

IT giants Tata Consultancy Services Ltd and Infosys Ltd jumped more than 3 per cent each, pushing the Nifty IT Index 2.7 per cent higher.

Axis Bank Ltd’s stock closed 2.3 per cent lower after the private sector lender approved raising 150 billion Indian rupees ($2.00 billion) through the issue of shares.

($1 = 74.8262 Indian rupees)

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