Indian shares end higher, consumer stocks gain

People walk past the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai, India, November 4, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

BENGALURU, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Indian shares closed higher on Wednesday, as investors pinned their hopes on strong earnings data amid signs of cooling inflation, sending the S&P BSE Sensex (.BSESN) above the key 60,000 level for the first time since April 5.

The NSE Nifty 50 index (.NSEI) closed 0.67% higher at 17,944.25 while the Sensex (.BSESN) ended 0.7% higher at 60,260.13. Both indexes clocked their highest closing level in four months.

A softening inflation has given rise to expectations the Reserve Bank of India might slow down pace and quantum of rate hikes in the coming months.

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"Although the broader market is by no means cheap, it isn't prohibitively expensive either. Therefore, those looking for fundamentally strong stocks at attractive valuations could still find pockets of undervaluation," said Rahul Shah, Co-head of Research at Equitymaster.

Analysts believe domestic sentiment has been upbeat since strong corporate June-quarter results and with signs of cooling inflation, aided by softening commodity prices.

Foreign institutional investors have also been pumping money into Indian equities, having bought $2.83 billion worth of shares this month until Aug. 12, compared with an inflow of $618 million all through July, data showed.

The Nifty FMCG index (.NIFTYFMCG) rose to a record high, but pared gains to end 0.7% higher. Tata Consumer (TACN.NS) ended 0.8% higher while Hindustan Unilever (HLL.NS) gained 1.5%.

The Nifty Media index (.NIFTYMED) advanced 1.5%, with Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEE.NS) up 6.1%.

Shares of Mahanagar Gas Ltd (MGAS.NS) closed 1.7% lower after the company reduced prices of compressed natural gas and domestic piped natural gas in and around Mumbai.

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Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Gaurav Dogra; Editing by Neha Arora and Krishna Chandra Eluri

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