April 16, 2019 / 6:45 AM / 5 months ago

Indian shares hit record highs; ICICI Bank, Reliance Industries lead

* NSE index up 0.76 pct, BSE index 0.86 pct higher

* Foreign buying drives market, says analyst

* Wipro down ahead of quarterly results

By Chris Thomas

April 16 (Reuters) - Indian shares extended gains to record highs on Tuesday, led by index heavyweights ICICI Bank Ltd and Reliance Industries Ltd, amid sustained buying from foreign investors.

Investors were also optimistic as the earnings season got off to a good start and the state-run weather office forecast average monsoon rains this year.

The rally in Indian stocks is not across the board - mid-caps are not moving, which is an indication that foreign institutional investors are in the market and are driving it higher, said R.K. Gupta, managing director at Taurus Asset Management.

Foreign investors bought shares worth a net $420.2 million in the last three sessions, taking the total purchase for the month to $2.01 billion.

Average monsoon rains this year would help to reduce bad loan levels at banks, and improve GDP, according to Gupta.

The broader NSE index was up 0.76 percent at 11,779.75 as of 0546 GMT and the benchmark BSE index was 0.86 percent higher at 39,240.52. Both indexes were headed for their four straight sessions of gains.

Meanwhile, Asian stocks kept below a nine-month high after disappointing bank earnings stalled Wall Street, though recent signs that the global economy is likely to avoid a sharper downturn helped limit the losses.

ICICI Bank rose as much as 3.3 percent in its sharpest intraday gain in five weeks and was the top boost to both indexes, after reports that Goldman Sachs raised its target price to 492 rupees from 451 rupees.

Reliance Industries rose 1.5 percent to its highest since April 5, while SpiceJet Ltd surged as much as 8.1 pct to its highest since May 2018 after the low-cost carrier said it would expand its Bombardier fleet by inducting five more Q400 aircraft.

The Nifty Midcap 50 Index climbed 0.3 percent, while the Nifty Midcap 100 index gained 0.4 percent.

Among losers, Wipro Ltd fell as much as 0.9 percent after the IT services firm said it was investigating a potential breach of some of its employee accounts due to an advanced phishing campaign.

The company is due to release its fourth-quarter results later in the day. (Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Gaurav Dogra; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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