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Sensex, Nifty rise as travel curbs eased; airlines, ITC surge
Photo Credit: Reuters

Indian shares ended higher on Thursday for the third consecutive session as the country eased curbs on air and rail travel, in a further relaxation of a weeks-long coronavirus lockdown that has battered the economy.

As thousands of Indians go jobless and companies are starved of revenue, India has been gradually easing lockdown curbs, encouraging markets which view the relaxations as the first steps to an eventual recovery in Asia's third-largest economy.

India on Wednesday announced a resumption of some domestic flights from 25 May, two months after they were grounded, and a graded restoration of train services from June 1.

"Markets are breathing a sigh of relief on the initial signs of the lockdown being lifted," said Deepak Jasani, head of retail research at HDFC Securities in Mumbai.

Still, India's economic outlook remained grim as analysts continued to slash their gross domestic product (GDP) forecasts. Moody's unit ICRA projected a 5% fall in GDP for 2020-21, steeper than its earlier estimate of a 1-2% decline.

The NSE Nifty 50 index ended 0.44% higher at 9,106.25, while the S&P BSE Sensex closed up 0.37% at 30,932.90.

With its third straight gain, the Nifty recouped some of the sharp losses in recent sessions triggered by disappointment over India's economic relief measures.

The index was earlier up 1% on Thursday, but was hit by a late slide in volatile banking stocks. Mortgage lender HDFC Ltd was the top drag on the Nifty 50, falling 1.8%.

Tobacco and consumer products giant ITC Ltd was the biggest boost to the Nifty, surging 7.5% as it was reported to have resumed cigarette manufacturing.

Interglobe Aviation Ltd, which runs India's largest airline IndiGo, jumped 7.3%, while second-biggest carrier SpiceJet climbed 4.9%.

Bajaj Auto Ltd rose 3.2% after better-than-expected March-quarter results. Asian Paints ended 5% higher.

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