Sensex, Nifty shares gained in volatile trade on Thursday, ahead of the monthly expiry of derivative contracts, as investors looked past surging COVID-19 cases at home and focused on earnings reports from blue-chip companies. The NSE Nifty 50 index was up 0.34 per cent at 14,914.35 by 1:15 pm, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex gained 0.29 per cent to 49,877.19, after earlier rising more than one per cent each to their highest since mid-March.
The indexes are set for a fourth straight session of gains, their longest streak since early-February, even as confirmed COVID-19 cases in India rose above 18 million with a record rise in infections and deaths over the last 24 hours.
"While it is a humanitarian crisis, there is no material hit to valuations and corporate profitability from the surge in cases. Investors have learned to look through the situation after the needless panic early last year during the first wave," said Saurabh Mukherjea, founder of Marcellus Investment Managers.
"Investors are now looking ahead to post-COVID-19 recovery. Economies across the world are roaring back to life and the expectation is that India will follow the same trend." Reliance Industries, India's largest company by market value, rose as much as 2.4 per cent to a three-week high, boosting the benchmark indexes.
The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that Saudi Aramco has held talks with Reliance about a cash-and-share deal for a stake in its refining and petrochemicals arm. The Nifty Bank index lost early gains of 1.7 per cent to trade marginally lower, with ICICI Bank reversing course to fall as much as two per cent.
Benchmark Nifty 50 components Bajaj Auto, Hindustan Unilever, and Titan Company are slated to report results later in the day. Asian shares were also higher after the U.S. Federal Reserve's comments and President Joe Biden's stimulus package plan.