Indian shares hit near 3-month high on jump in automakers, UltraTech Cement

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

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BENGALURU, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Indian shares closed at their highest level in nearly three months on Monday as automakers advanced and UltraTech Cement jumped on strong earnings, but losses in HCL Technologies due to weak margins put a lid on the gains.

The NSE Nifty 50 index (.NSEI) ended 0.29% higher at 18,308.1 and the S&P BSE Sensex (.BSESN) rose 0.14% to 61,308.91 as the third-quarter earnings season entered its second week.

Both the indexes are now just around 1.5% shy of record highs hit in October, after rising for fourth straight weeks.

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Investors are looking ahead to major events including blue-chip corporate earnings and the federal budget due early next month.

Underpinning the gains on Monday, UltraTech Cement (ULTC.NS) rose 2.7% to a two-month high after reporting a jump in quarterly profit and saying demand would rebound in the final quarter.

The Nifty Auto index (.NIFTYAUTO) was the best performing sub-index with a 2.1% gain, led by a 5.1% rise in Hero Motocorp (HROM.NS). The two-wheeler maker said it would invest about $56.6 million in electric vehicle (EV) firm Ather Energy. read more

Carmaker Maruti Suzuki India (MRTI.NS) rose 2.2% after it raised prices and Tata Motors (TAMO.NS) was up 3% after a report said the company was planning to make 50,000 EVs in the next fiscal year.

HCL Technologies (HCLT.NS) slumped 5.9% and was the top loser on the Nifty 50 on disappointment over the IT firm's margin outlook after wage hikes dented profit. read more

Heavyweight lender HDFC Bank (HDBK.NS) also weighed on the index as it fell 1.5% on flat margins and lower fees from its payments business. read more

Meanwhile, a steady rise in India's daily COVID-19 cases eased, with the country logging 258,089 cases on Monday compared with Sunday's 271,202 cases.

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Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni

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