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Sensex, Nifty rally on hopes of outbreak peaking, easing of lockdown
Photo Credit: Reuters

Indian stocks closed over 4% higher on Thursday on early signs that the coronavirus pandemic was nearing its peak globally and expectations that the government may ease the 21-day lockdown put in place to contain the outbreak.

Sentiment was also boosted by expectations of more stimulus to thwart a global recession, with European Union finance ministers set to resume talks on a half-a-trillion support package later in the day.

The NSE Nifty 50 closed 4.15% higher at 9,111.90, while the S&P BSE Sensex ended up 4.23% at 31,159.27.

Both the indexes snapped seven consecutive weekly losses and finished the holiday-shortened week nearly 13% higher. Indian financial markets are closed on Friday and were shut on Monday for a local holiday.

"Global positive cues and expectations of more stimulus measures are supporting the rally," said Siddhartha Khemka, head of retail research at Motilal Oswal Securities.

World stocks were in the green with the MSCI's All-Country World Index, which tracks shares across 49 countries, inching 0.5% higher.

US stock futures were up 1% and the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.56%.

Meanwhile, the Indian government was considering easing an ongoing 21-day lockdown in some areas while extending it to some hot spots such as Delhi, Mumbai and parts of the south.

As of Thursday, India had reported over 4,500 infections and nearly 150 deaths.

Stocks rallied across the board on Friday. The Nifty bank index closed nearly 5% higher, while the Nifty PSU bank index finished the session up over 3%.

The Nifty auto index saw its biggest single-day gain since September, closing over 10% higher. Analysts said the sector had been a laggard in the recent rally.

Pharma stocks closed in positive territory for a third straight session, with the Nifty Pharma index advancing nearly 5%.

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