Indian shares marched ahead on Wednesday, November 20 with Reliance Industries and state-run energy companies leading the pack, while investors waited for a cabinet meeting that will likely discuss stake sales in some government-owned companies. The NSE Nifty 50 index rose 0.6% to 12,014, while the S&P BSE Sensex gained 0.4% to 40,638.7. 

sensex nifty
A man walks past a screen displaying news of markets update inside the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai, February 6.Reuters

India's benchmark equity index hit record levels led by index-heavyweight Reliance Industries (RIL) -- the largest company by market cap on Tuesday, November 19 surged nearly 4 per cent on the BSE after improved prospects of Jio. Moreover, Reliance Industries (RIL), the highest contributor to Sensex gains is just short of reaching the market capitalisation of Rs 10 lakh crore. RIL will be the fist listed firm to reach the landmark size.

At 12.16 p.m., the Sensex was up 319.43 points at 40,789.13 before hitting the intra-day high of 40,816.38. The broader Nifty surged to 12,024.40, gaining 84.30 points. Strong buying was yet again seen in telecom companies after Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea (VIL) decided to hike tariff as early as December 1.

Index leaders, in terms of gains were: IndusInd Bank, Sun Pharma, Reliance Industries, Maruti Suzuki and Yes Bank. The top losers were NTPC, Kotak Mahindra Bank, State Bank of India, Bajaj Auto and HCL Tech.

Telecom stocks rise

Reliance Jio
Representational Imagetwitter

Telecom stocks advanced further after Reliance Jio, owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries, said it planned to hike tariffs in the next few weeks. Rivals Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd have already announced their plans to raise rates from next month. Shares of Reliance Industries rose 3.75% to a record high of 1,571 rupees and were the top gainers in the Nifty 50 index.

"Reliance is the major driver (of markets). Once they raise tariffs, the valuation of Jio, as well as Reliance, also goes up," said Rusmik Oza, head of Fundamental Research, Kotak Securities. "Also, there is some interest in private sector banks. The oil PSUs are also getting double benefit from a fall in crude prices as well as the cabinet committee meeting to discuss strategic divestment of some of the companies."

A surge in US stockpiles weighed on crude oil prices, sending refiner stocks higher, with Nifty's energy index adding 1.53%. Meanwhile, shares of Vodafone Idea surged as much as 34.71%, while those of Airtel gained 3.1%.