Indian shares scale record highs in catch-up trade

BENGALURU, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Indian shares opened at record highs on Tuesday, playing catch-up with overseas gains after a long holiday weekend and bolstered by news that U.S. drugmaker Moderna Inc’s coronavirus vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing infection.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index rose 1.2% to hit an all-time high of 12,934.05 before paring some of its gains to trade 0.4% higher by 0504 GMT.

The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex climbed as much as 1.19% to touch a fresh peak of 44,161.16 and was last up 0.4%.

Markets had eked out modest gains in a one-hour special “muhurat” trading session for Diwali on Saturday, and were closed on Monday.

Moderna Inc became the second drugmaker after Pfizer Inc to announce promising trial data in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, pushing global markets higher.

“There is comfort in the fact that the temperature requirements for (Moderna’s) vaccine are quite moderate, which would make transportation easier,” said Anita Gandhi, director at Arihant Capital Markets in Mumbai.

Moderna said it expects the vaccine to be stable at normal fridge temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 48°F) for 30 days.

Indian equities have gained more than 9% so far in November, helped by signs of a demand recovery, a strong earnings season, and higher fund inflows.

“FIIs (foreign institutional investors) have been net buyers this month,” Gandhi said, adding that there was also general optimism in the new trading session after the festive season.

In Mumbai, the Nifty Bank Index rose 0.96% and the Nifty Auto Index was up 0.32%.

Tata Steel Ltd was among the top boosts to the Nifty, rising 7% after the company late on Friday said it was in talks with Swedish steelmaker SSAB to sell its Dutch steel mill and related assets. (Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)