Indian shares end lower, snap five weeks of gains

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Indian shares closed lower for a fourth straight session on Friday, weighed by weakness in private banks and technology stocks and concerns about the global economy and inflation, pushing the indexes to record their first weekly slide in six.

A road sign is seen next to Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai, India, February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index ended 0.49% lower at 17,532.05, and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex was down 0.61% at 58,765.58.

For the week, the Nifty 50 and the BSE Sensex lost 1.8% and 2.1%, respectively. Prior to this week, the indexes had posted five consecutive weekly gains on accommodative monetary policy and the easing of COVID-19 curbs.

On Friday, however, signs of a stagnation in the global economic recovery and rising inflation spooked investors, with expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve could tighten policy in the coming months gathering steam.

“Indian markets are currently richly valued and therefore not immune from some of these headwinds,” said Unmesh Kulkarni, managing director and senior advisor at Julius Baer India.

Yet, “the equity market mood in India is reflecting the optimism around a strong domestic recovery in growth and demand with the ongoing normalisation of the economy”, Kulkarni said.

Among individual shares and sectors, private banks fell 0.6%, with Federal Bank Ltd skidding 1.4% to lead losses on the sub-index.

Technology stocks dropped, with Mphasis Ltd sliding 2.5%.

Real estate stocks snapped two sessions of gains, while metal stocks rebounded from the previous session’s loss.

Takeover target Zee Entertainment declined 2.4% after its board denied requests from top shareholders to convene an extraordinary general meeting.

Debt-laden telecom company Vodafone Idea and larger peer Bharti Airtel fell 4.2% and 1.8%, respectively, after local media reported that the Department of Telecommunications issued notices to the companies to pay 30.50 billion rupees ($411.47 million) in penalties in three weeks.

($1 = 74.1240 Indian rupees)

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