January 8, 2018 / 6:39 AM / 5 months ago

Indian shares mark record; rupee hits over 2-1/2 yr high

* NSE index up 0.55 pct, BSE index 0.59 pct higher

* Indexes hit second consecutive record high

* Rupee at highest since April 2015

* Asian stocks near all-time high

By Krishna V Kurup

Jan 8 (Reuters) - Indian shares hit record highs on Monday, as pre-budget cheer and optimism over corporate results offset lowered growth forecasts, with sentiment also boosted by broader Asian markets that advanced towards historic levels.

The rupee, meanwhile, rose to as high as 63.2450 per dollar, its strongest level since April 2015, and was last at 63.3550, compared to its close of 63.3750 on Friday.

The broader NSE index was up 0.55 percent at 10,616.40 as of 0542 GMT, after earlier rising as much as 0.61 percent to hit a record high of 10,623.20.

The benchmark BSE index rose 0.59 percent to 34,356.95, after gaining as much as 0.65 percent to touch a record high of 34,374.85.

“Market is rising in spite of all the negative news around GDP (gross domestic product) estimate cut, as this is more of a pre-budget rally, while upbeat global markets also boosted sentiment,” said R.K. Gupta, managing director at Taurus Asset Management.

India lowered its forecast for the current year’s economic growth to 6.5 percent on Friday from the earlier estimated 7.5 percent, before a federal budget is released next month, as businesses were hit by the chaotic launch of new nationwide tax last July.

Indications of slightly better earnings this season versus the last quarter has also added to the optimism, Gupta said.

Financials and IT stocks gained, with Infosys Ltd and ICICI Bank Ltd helping the indexes gain.

Infosys, which is due to report December-quarter results on Friday, rose 1.8 percent, while ICICI Bank climbed 1.2 percent.

Pharma stocks also advanced, with the Nifty Pharma index up as much as 2.5 percent to a two-month high.

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd rose 3.2 percent and was among the top gainers on the indexes.

Real estate developer Sobha Ltd rose as much as 14.8 percent to its highest in over nine years following its highest ever quarterly sales performance.

Meanwhile, Asian shares ex-Japan crept toward all-time peaks on Monday after Wall Street posted its best start to a year in over a decade. (Reporting by Krishna V Kurup in Bengaluru; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)

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