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Stocks

India shares rise for 2nd day as banks gain on hopes of steps to tackle bad debt

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Indian shares rose for a second straight day on Friday as banks rallied after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government would soon announce policy measures to address rising bad debt.

The benchmark BSE Sensex index gained 0.3%, or 89.24 points, to 29,421.40, while the broader NSE Nifty 50 index ended 0.2% higher, or 21.70 points, at 9,108. For the week, the indices declined 0.8% and 0.6%.

Banks and index heavyweight ITC were among the top gainers on Friday, while software stocks the biggest losers.

"Banking stocks gained traction on expectation of an announcement of a policy for quick settlement of bad debts," said Vinod Nair, head of research at Geojit Financial Services. "That kept positive vibes in the market."

U.S. stocks fell overnight after lawmakers delayed vote on a health care bill seen as President Donald Trump's first policy test. Failure to pass the American Health Care Act will cast doubt on Trump's ability to deliver his agenda that needs cooperation of the Republican-controlled Congress - including tax changes and infrastructure spending.

Fifteen of the 30 Sensex constituents ended higher, while overall declining issues edged past advancing ones 1,458 to 1,355 and 223 stocks were unchanged.

ICICI Bank added 2.9% to 274.80 rupees to lead a banking gauge on the BSE higher by 1.2%.

India's biggest lender State Bank of India rose 2.8% to 276.05 rupees, while Bank of Baroda, a part of the Nifty index, ended 4.3% higher at 169.05 rupees.

The federal government and the central bank have taken some policy decision to help lenders deal with rising bad loans, and an announcement will be made 'in a couple of days,' Finance Minister Jaitley said late Thursday in New Delhi.

Indian banks gross sour debt ratio at the end of September stood at 9.1% of advances, higher than 7.8% as of March, 2016, Reserve Bank of India data showed.

Cigarette maker ITC rose 1.1% to 281.05 rupees, rebounding from a 3.4% loss in the previous two days.

Bharti Airtel rose 0.6% to 340.40 rupees. India's largest mobile phone operator late Thursday said it will acquire Tikona Digital Networks 4G business for about $245 million.

Software exporter Infosys fell 0.9% to 1,031.80 rupees and larger rival Tata Consultancy Services declined 1.3% to 2,426.75 rupees as Accenture's quarterly earnings and guidance released on Thursday weighed on the sector outlook. The U.S. company's consulting business revenue grew at the slowest pace in more than a year for the quarter ended Feb. 28.

In rest of Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.9% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended up 0.2%. China's Shanghai Composite index gained 0.6% while South Korea's Kospi index declined 0.2%.

--Dhanya Ann Thoppil

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