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Equities

India shares post weekly gains as State Bank, software exporters advance

Fuel retailers, Oil & Natural Gas among key losers

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Indian shares eked out marginal gains this week, driven by advances in State Bank of India and software exporters.

The BSE Sensex rose 0.2% this week after Friday's 0.8% advance to 34,924.87. The day's gains helped the index wipe off accumulated losses through Thursday. The Nifty 50 Index rose 0.9% to 10,605.15 on Friday and added 0.1% for the week.

State Bank of India was the best performer on the Sensex this week, rallying 11.6%. India's biggest lender by assets posted a loss in the fourth quarter, but the closely watched gross non-performing assets to total advances level was lower than what most analysts had feared.

"We believe that the asset quality cycle is improving with bulk of recognition behind us now. It's now a matter of time before earnings normalise, and valuations are attractive assuming earnings normalization is 3-4 quarters away," Morgan Stanley said in a note.

Infosys, up 3.8% this week, led software exporters higher amid an improving margin outlook on the back of a weaker rupee. Tata Consultancy Services posted a weekly advance of 2.5% and HCL Technologies has advanced 2.9% since last Friday.

Oil & Natural Gas was among losers this week following a report that the company may be subjected to a windfall tax amid attempts to soften the impact of rising global crude prices on consumers. Its shares fell 5.2% for the week.

Hindustan Petroleum dropped 5.4% this week, Bharat Petroleum declined by 1.2%, and Indian Oil lost 3.3% amid investor concerns that fuel retailers will be tapped to cushion the impact of rising retail prices. Lower-than-expected net profit by IOC and HPCL too contributed to the weekly losses.

On Friday, Infosys rose 0.6% and Tata Consultancy shed 0.4%. ONGC jumped 4.6%, HPCL advanced 4.4%, BPCL gained 2.7%, and Indian Oil ended 4.8% higher.

Indian markets began the week on a defensive note after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata party pulled out of a court mandated test to prove that it had the support of majority of lawmakers in the southern state of Karnataka.

The Sensex erased the losses in the later part of the week, helped by the U.S. Federal Reserve minutes that were perceived as dovish and demand for heavyweight software exporters.

Among other major movers this week, copper miner Vedanta tumbled 6.9% after at least 10 people were killed in police firing as protests against its copper smelter in Tamil Nadu state turned violent. Tata Motors dropped 3.6% after its March quarter earnings missed estimates.

On Friday, Multi Commodity Exchange of India soared 13.8%. Business Standard reported that the company and the National Stock Exchange are in talks for a potential merger.

United Breweries ended 0.5% higher after the beer maker reported a more-than-13-fold jump in fourth-quarter profit.

--Nimesh Vora

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