Indian shares ended at near four-month highs on Friday, boosted by Reliance Industries Ltd after Intel Corp agreed to invest in the Asian conglomerate's digital unit, although a record spike in domestic COVID-19 cases curbed gains.
The benchmark indexes finished higher for a third consecutive session, with the NSE Nifty 50 index rising 0.53% to 10,607.35 and the S&P BSE Sensex advancing 0.5% to 36,021.42. Both indexes notched their third straight weekly gain.
Index heavyweight Reliance Industries climbed 1.6% to an all-time closing high after the investment arm of U.S. chipmaker Intel decided to pay some $255 million to buy a 0.39% stake in the digital unit, Jio Platforms.
However, business mood was dampened by reports of domestic COVID-19 cases jumping by a record 20,903 infections to 625,544, including 18,213 deaths.
"People on the ground have started realising that many people in their first degree of connection are now coming down with COVID-19, and the fear of what another lockdown will do to industries is the biggest overhanging worry for investors," said Nikhil Kamath, co-founder and chief investment officer at stock broker Zerodha.
The Nifty and Sensex have rebounded sharply from a coronavirus-fuelled slump in March, but remain around 13% lower for the year.
Financials stocks were among the worst performers on Friday, with HDFC Bank Ltd and IndusInd Bank Ltd dropping around 1.5% each.
Global markets inched higher after data showed a brisk pickup in Chinese service sector activity in June and as U.S. nonfarm payrolls saw a better-than-expected jump.
Closer home in Mumbai, power plant equipment maker Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd soared 5.3% after India tightened scrutiny around power supply equipment imports from its neighbours, particularly China.
Telecom operator Bharti Airtel topped gains on the Nifty 50 with a 4.1% jump that took the stock to its best closing level since June 8.
JSW Steel Ltd was the worst performer, slumping 1.8% after reporting a drop in June steel production.'