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Nifty, Sensex log best month since 2009, track global cheer on virus drug hopes
Photo Credit: Reuters

Indian shares recorded their best month in 11 years on Thursday, tracking gains in global markets on signs of progress in developing a Covid-19 treatment, while heavyweight Reliance Industries rose ahead of its earnings.

Early results from a trial of US-based Gilead Sciences Inc.'s drug remdesivir showed on Wednesday it helped speed up recovery from the illness caused by the coronavirus, pushing world stock markets higher.

Markets across the globe also rallied this week on signs of easing lockdowns in Europe and the United States, and on expectations of more stimulus from the European Central Bank, although India remains in one of the strictest lockdowns worldwide.

No decision has been taken yet on how the nation will exit the lockdown due to end this weekend. The government is also still to announce a long-awaited stimulus package to help mitigate the damage from the crisis.

India's main indexes clocked gains of around 14% each for April -- the most in a month since May 2009 -- after sliding 23% in March as the coronavirus clobbered markets. They are still down around 19% from the beginning of the year.

The NSE Nifty 50 index closed 3.21% higher at 9,859.9 on Thursday, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex ended up 3.05% at 33,717.62, both near seven-week closing highs. The indexes have risen all four sessions in the holiday-truncated week.

Oil-to-retail conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd gained 2.7% ahead of its quarterly results due after the bell, also supported by an over 10% surge in oil prices on signs of a recovery in US fuel demand.

India's largest company has cut pay by up to 50% for some top oil-and-gas division employees, six persons told Reuters on Thursday, as it battles lower fuel consumption and profitability due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Consumer goods giant Hindustan Unilever Ltd slipped 1.65% ahead of its earnings.

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