Lockdown fears weigh on Nifty; Reliance gains

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
Lockdown fears weigh on Nifty; Reliance gains

By Sachin Ravikumar

BENGALURU, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Indian shares were flat on Monday as prospects of an early roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines were countered by fears in India over the impact of further lockdowns, although Reliance Industries rose after winning regulatory approval for a $3.4 billion deal.

A top U.S. health official said on Sunday the first coronavirus vaccines could be given to healthcare workers and others recommended by mid-December, boosting Asian stock markets on Monday. MKTS/GLOB

In India, the NSE Nifty 50 index .NSEI was up 0.04% at 12,864.10 by 0510 GMT. The S&P BSE Sensex .BSESN eased 0.05% to 43,860.60.

Reliance Industries RELI.NS , India's most valuable public company, advanced about 2% after the country's competition watchdog approved its deal to buy Future Group's retail assets. Maharashtra state, home to India's financial capital of Mumbai, could take a decision on a fresh lockdown within 8-10 days, the state's deputy chief minister reportedly said https://www.livemint.com/news/india/-there-were-huge-crowds-during-diwali-period-ajit-pawar-hints-at-lockdown-in-maharashtra-11606043356871.html, citing a possible risk from large social gatherings during the just concluded festive season.

"If there's a lockdown, even in a small way, it cannot be a positive. India cannot afford more restrictions," said A.K. Prabhakar, head of research at IDBI Capital in Mumbai.

India, the world's second worst-hit nation by COVID-19, is likely to see its deepest economic contraction on record this fiscal year as businesses and incomes are hit by the pandemic. Monday, shares in several financial firms rose after a central bank committee recommended changes that could transform the country's banking landscape by paving the way for large industrial conglomerates to set up banks. Bank INBK.NS rose 4% and was the top gainer on the Nifty 50. IDFC (NS: IDFC ) First Bank IDFB.NS jumped 7%.

Small finance banks also advanced, with Equitas EQUI.NS surging 12%, while Ujjivan UJJI.NS added 20%.

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