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India shares post best weekly gain in six weeks on strong earnings

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Indian shares recorded their best weekly gain in six weeks, driven by better-than-expected corporate earnings and a rebound in global risk appetite. However, the stocks edged lower on Friday as some investors booked profits on select index heavyweights.

The benchmark BSE Sensex index declined 0.4%, or 111.34 points, to 29,918.40, while the broader NSE Nifty 50 index closed 0.4% lower, or 38.10 points, at 9,304.05 on Friday. Both the indices had risen to a record on Wednesday. For the week, they gained 1.9% and 2%.

Cigarette maker ITC fell 2.3% to 278.60 rupees, while HDFC Bank, India's biggest lender by market value, declined 1.6% to 1,542.15 rupees, ending an eight-session, over 9% rally after posting better-than-expected quarterly earnings last week.

For the week, ITC gained 1.3%, while HDFC Bank rose 3%.

"The week saw good results from companies, with numbers coming above analyst expectations. The rupee also showed appreciation against the dollar, and that aided domestic sentiment," said Akash Jain, vice president of research at Ajcon Global. "Globally, French election results supported risk appetite."

Jain said the market is probably in a bull run. He expects the Nifty to find strong support at 9,100 levels.

Financial stocks, which have the biggest weightage on the Sensex, were among the top gainers for the week.

Mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corp. ended 2% higher for the week, despite losing 1.9% to close at 1,537.05 rupees on Friday. That was its biggest fall since Apr.5. ICICI Bank, India's biggest private lender, rose 3.4% for the week after adding 1.6% at 278.50 rupees on Friday. Both the companies are scheduled to detail earnings next week.

Axis Bank jumped 4.9% for the week, its best since late February, and closed 0.7% higher at 509.60 rupees on Friday.

Maruti Suzuki India advanced 2.4% to 6,525.50 rupees on Friday and surged 5% for the week after the company posted a near 16% increase in profit on Thursday. CLSA raised its target price of the stock to 7,600 rupees a share from 6,650 rupees earlier on Friday.

Meanwhile, leading among weekly losers, drug maker Lupin declined 5.1%, marking its worst weekly loss since Aug. 12 on media reports the company received observations from the U.S. drug regulator related to it Goa plant. For the session, the stock ended little changed at 1,337.80 rupees.

Tata Consultancy Services, India's top software exporter, slipped 1.7% for the week, weighed by a strengthening rupee. Friday, the stock ended down 1.3% at 2,272.10 rupees.

Elsewhere in Asia, on a weekly basis, China's Shanghai Composite index ended 0.6% lower while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed up 2.4%. Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 3.1% while South Korea's Kospi index ended 1.9% higher.

--Dhanya Ann Thoppil

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