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Mumbai: Equity benchmarks made a winning start to the week on Monday as positive results from another COVID-19 vaccine candidate bolstered investor confidence globally. After touching a record intra-day high of 44,271.15, the 30-share BSE Sensex ended 194.90 points or 0.44 per cent higher at 44,077.15. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty rose 67.40 points or 0.52 per cent to close at 12,926.45.

A recovering rupee and unabated foreign fund inflows added to the momentum, traders said.

ONGC was the top performer on the Sensex chart, surging 6.84 per cent, followed by IndusInd Bank, Infosys, Tech Mahindra, Bajaj Finserv, Reliance Industries, HCL Tech and TCS.

Index heavyweight Reliance Industries climbed 2.72 per cent, accounting for most of the Sensex's gains, after the Competition Commission on Friday evening said it has approved the conglomerate's proposed acquisition of Future Group's retail assets.

On the other hand, HDFC, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, SBI and M&M were among the main laggards, slumping up to 3.55 per cent.

Global equities were on the upswing after Oxford University and AstraZeneca announced that their COVID-19 vaccine candidate was found to be around 90 per cent effective in preventing the disease.

This is the third major vaccine trial to have reported encouraging results, after Moderna and Pfizer came out with positive Phase 3 data.

"While global cues remained favourable, a sharp rebound in IT, pharma, metals and Reliance Industries led domestic equities to register further gains. However, profit booking was witnessed in select heavyweight financials after recommendation of IWG (Internal Working Group) of RBI did not favour them much, which led financials to end in red today.

"Additionally, as expected strong buying in mid-cap and small-cap stocks remained visible in the backdrop of improving earnings outlook scenario. Nifty is poised to cross psychological 13,000 mark shortly. We believe improved prospects of strong corporate earnings should continue to attract foreign participation in Indian equities, which bodes well for markets," said Binod Modi, Head- Strategy at Reliance Securities.

BSE IT, oil and gas, energy, teck, healthcare, utilities and power indices rallied as much as 2.89 per cent, while telecom, bankex, finance and consumer durables closed lower.

Broader BSE midcap and smallcap indices jumped up to 1.37 per cent.

Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul ended with significant gains.

Stock exchanges in Europe were also trading on a positive note.

Meanwhile, Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, rose 1.64 per cent to USD 45.81 per barrel.

The rupee appreciated by 5 paise to settle at 74.11 against the US dollar.

Foreign institutional investors remained net buyers in the capital market as they purchased shares worth Rs 3,860.78 crore on Friday, according to provisional exchange data.

(With PTI Inputs)

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