BENGALURU, May 5 (Reuters) - Financial and healthcare stocks
pushed Indian shares higher on Wednesday after the central bank
announced measures to help the sectors tide over a ferocious
coronavirus wave in the country.
Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das announced
relief to individual borrowers and small businesses by including
one-time debt restructuring for loans, and unveiled a special
liquidity window of up to 500 billion rupees ($6.76 billion) for
banks to lend to the healthcare sector.
"Small businesses and financial entities at the grassroot
level are bearing the biggest brunt of the second wave of
infections," Das said, as he announced a slew of other measures
to enhance liquidity.
India's healthcare system has been worn down by a massive
surge in coronavirus cases and several states have been forced
to enter lockdowns. The country accounted for nearly half of the
COVID-19 cases reported worldwide last week, the World Health
Organization said on Wednesday.
However, the RBI governor said the second COVID-19 wave was
not "insurmountable" and that the future remained "bright".
"Given the extent of the second wave of the pandemic and the
suffering it has caused, the Reserve Bank of India has announced
some timely liquidity measures that will provide relief to the
most vulnerable by ensuring credit flow to individuals, small
businesses and MSMEs...," Shanti Ekambaram, group president
consumer banking, Kotak Mahindra Bank, said in a note.
On Wednesday, the blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index
closed 0.84% higher at 14,617.85, while the benchmark S&P BSE
Sensex advanced 0.88% to 48,677.55.
The Nifty Bank Index rose 1.59%, while the Nifty
PSU Bank Index, which tracks state-run banks, gained
Pharmaceutical stocks got the biggest boost from the RBI's
measures, with the Nifty Pharma index closing 4.12%
Sun Pharmaceutical Industries jumped 5.9% and was
the biggest percentage gainer on the benchmark Nifty 50.
India's benchmark 10-year bond yield saw a
low of 5.9602% during the RBI governor's address and ended down
3 bps on day at 5.98%, while the rupee was slightly
weaker at 73.91 against the dollar.
($1 = 73.9700 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Chris Thomas and Anuron Mitra Kumar in Bengaluru;
Editing by Shailesh Kuber)