Indian shares were set on Friday for their best year since 2017, driven by an economic recovery from the pandemic-fuelled slump and massive liquidity, even as a raging new COVID-19 variant and valuation concerns kept investors cautious towards the year-end.
The NSE Nifty 50 index gained 0.8% to 17,337 by 0510 GMT and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.7% to 58,192.45. The NSE and BSE indexes were up 24% and 21%, respectively, for the year.
"Markets have embraced possibility of rate hikes, and with the new variant, there is a general feeling that we may not hit a panic scenario like we did last year, though we might see a short span of pain," said Anand James, chief market strategist at Geojit Financial Services.
"Going ahead, investors might shift position ahead of the budget session and earnings from IT companies. In anticipation of these two events, people are not letting go of their winnings outright and this is allowing markets to hold on to gains as we wrap up the year."
Indian authorities started to impose stringent rules on Thursday to prevent mass gatherings at New year's parties and public venues to combat a spike in COVID-19 infections.
The year also saw several initial share sales, including India's biggest from digital payments start-up Paytm, as ample liquidity and strong retail participation pushed the stock market to record levels.
Some prominent names that listed this year included beauty e-commerce retailer Nykaa and food delivery platform Zomato.
The Nifty bank and metals indexes were the top boosts on Friday, rising 1.2% and 1.9% respectively.