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India shares post third week of gains amid bets of better earnings

Easing fears of U.S-China trade war also buoy investors

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Indian shares recorded their third straight week of gains as easing concerns over a U.S.-China trade war and bets of improved quarterly earnings boosted investors' risk appetite.

The BSE Sensex rose 1.7%, while the Nifty 50 Index added 1.4% during the week. On Friday, the indices advanced 0.3% to 34,192.65 and 0.2% to 10,480.60, levels last seen at February end. Tata Consultancy Services, India's biggest software services provider, jumped 6.8%, leading gains in information technology stocks during the week. Infosys, which released quarterly earnings after market hours, added 3.5% and HCL Technologies advanced 4%.

Private lender Axis Bank, the week's top gainer, added 8.2% after brokerages said a change in the lender's top management is a long-term positive and will help better address its bad loans problem. On Monday, the bank's board accepted the request of the current chief executive to shorten her new three-year term to seven months.

On Friday, Tata Consultancy rose 0.4% and Infosys added 0.6%. Axis Bank ended 1.2 lower. HCL fell 2% after the company and Sumeru Equity Partners signed a pact to acquire Palo Alto-based Actian Corp. for $330 million in cash.

"Indications are for a move higher in the market and the Nifty is likely to test 10,600 in the near future," said Jayant Manglik, president of Religare Broking. "We advise keeping hedged positions, considering the possibility of volatile swings during the earnings season."

Fuel retailers were the key losers for the week after media report said that the federal government may ask them to absorb some increase in fuel prices. During the week, crude prices rose to their highest levels since December 2014. With India importing around 80% of their crude requirements, an increase in international crude prices flags off fears of a rise in inflation expectations.

Indian Oil Corp. fell 5.3%, Hindustan Petroleum declined 5.7%, and Bharat Petroleum plunged 6.6% this week. On Friday, the companies declined at least 1%.

Among other key movers on Friday, United Spirits climbed 1.3% ahead of its board meet to consider a stock split.

Tata Steel declined 0.5% after reporting a 9.1% on-year fall in total volume of steel sold during last quarter.

Truck maker Ashok Leyland rose 3.1% after it won an initial order worth 1 billion rupees from the Ministry of Defence.

--Gurdev Singh Virk

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