India reported a record number of new COVID-19 infections on Friday, prompting states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka and others to either impose night or weekend curfews as the country battles a second wave of infections and states complain of vaccine shortages.
Investors banked on a pickup in demand for consumer staples and personal care items, sending the Nifty subindex for fast-moving consumer goods up as much as 1.3% to record highs, lifting the broader market as well.
Heavyweight Hindustan Unilever Ltd, which sells Lipton teas and Annapurna branded flour, rose as much as 3.0%, while ITC Ltd gained as much as 1.3%.
"We are witnessing some uptick in demand across impacted geographies for our hygiene portfolio under the Savlon brand, as well as food brands including Aashirvaad flour, Yippee noodles and ITC MasterChef frozen snacks among others," an ITC spokesman said.
Purchase of fruits, vegetables, snacks and personal care items had risen by about 40% in cities such as Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, said Hari Menon, founder of online grocery retailing website BigBasket.
Analysts, however, said they don't expect the pickup in demand to be as high as when India went into a country-wide lockdown last March, since the curfews are partial and not as stringent as the last time.
"A pickup in demand and delivery similar to the previous lockdown is now expected for FMCG companies, but the pickup will not be as great as it was last time," said KK Mittal, investment advisor at Venus India Asset Finance.
(Reporting by Soumyajit Saha and Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)
By Soumyajit Saha