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Indian shares clock biggest weekly gain in three months

Bharti Airtel, Reliance Industries pace advances

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Indian shares recorded their best weekly gain in three months, with the Nifty index hitting a record high on Friday, driven by advances in index heavyweights Bharti Airtel and Reliance Industries.

The benchmark BSE Sensex gained 1.9% this week while the broader Nifty 50 added 1.9%. On Friday, the Sensex ended up 0.8%, or 250.47 points, at 32,432.69, while the Nifty rose 0.7%, or 71.05 points, at 10,167.45, its highest ever.

Bharti Airtel, the nation's largest telecom operator, surged 13% for the week after jumping 7.9% on Friday. On Thursday, the company announced it will absorb Tata Group's mobile phone business in a 'cash free, debt free' deal. Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) surged 10%, its daily permissible limit.

Energy-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries jumped 4.8% for the week on bets of a strong July-September earnings. After market hours, the company reported a better-than-expected 12.5% rise in consolidated net profit in the quarter.

"The markets are expected to trade in a range-bound direction going ahead, and earnings from large companies are the key to future momentum," said Swapneel Mantri, a technical analyst at Sushil Finance. "Positive macro-economic data also aided sentiment today."

India's retail inflation edged up 3.28% in September from a year earlier, slower than economists expected, government data showed after-market hours on Thursday. Meanwhile, factory output in August grew 4.3% from a year earlier, the quickest pace since November, driven by increase in manufacturing sector.

General Insurance Corp. of India's $1.74 billion initial public offering, the biggest since 2010, was fully subscribed on the final day of order-taking, further boosting investor sentiment.

Most Asian shares ended up for the week tracking record gains on Wall Street. The Nikkei Asia300 added more than 2%.

On Friday, 22 of the 30 Sensex constituents ended lower, while overall declining issues beat advancing ones 1,447 to 1,294 and 117 remained unchanged.

India's biggest software services exporter Tata Consultancy Services added 4.6% for the week. The company reported a better-than-expected second-quarter net income on Thursday.

Private lenders also contributed to the rally. IndusInd Bank added 4.1% for the week after reporting a 25% increase in net interest income for the September quarter. HDFC Bank gained 2.8%, Axis Bank advanced 5%, and Kotak Mahindra Bank gained 4.3% for the week. Axis Bank is due to report July-September earnings on Tuesday.

Metal stocks extended their recent gains on Friday as global metal prices rallied. Tata Steel rose 2.9% and Vedanta added 0.5%.

Godrej Industries ended up 1.1% ahead of the listing of its agri-business subsidiary Godrej Agrovet on Monday. Idea Cellular gained 5.9% after shareholders approved its proposed merger with Vodafone's India unit.

--Nivedita Naidu

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