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Indian shares reverse course to end lower as restriction worries return

Soumyajit Saha
·2 min read
A broker reacts while trading at his computer terminal at a stock brokerage firm in Mumbai

By Soumyajit Saha

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian shares gave up gains to end lower on Tuesday as investors locked in profits in IT services stocks, while fears of more economic pain from coronavirus lockdowns also weighed on sentiment.

The NSE Nifty 50 index fell 0.44% to 14,296.4, while the S&P BSE Sensex lost 0.51% to end at 47,705.80.

The two indexes have retreated 6.9% and 8.7%, respectively, from record highs hit in February as surging COVID-19 cases threaten to stifle a nascent economic recovery.

India's daily COVID-19 cases retreated from record levels on Tuesday, but it reported 1,761 deaths overnight, its highest daily toll.

"The enthusiasm about extending vaccines to all adults died out as other realities came to the fore ... there is also a fear that as elections wind up, restrictions may get stricter," said Anita Gandhi, director at Arihant Capital Markets.

The Indian government said on Monday it would let all citizens over the age of 18 have COVID-19 vaccinations from May 1 and would waive customs duty on vaccine imports as the country's healthcare system struggled to provide for patients.

Leading the losses, IT stocks fell 1.4% as HCL Technologies dropped 3.4%.

"Tech stocks have enjoyed good price momentum and a few heavyweights recently reported results that were in line with expectations ... so we can expect some routine profit taking and tepid share performance," Gandhi said.

Consumer goods stocks lost 0.6% to fall for a second straight session, with Hindustan Unilever Ltd down 1.7%.

Financial stocks ended 0.6% lower, with Housing Development Finance Corp dropping 3.3% and declining the most on the benchmark index.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical stocks rose 1.3%, with Dr.Reddy's Laboratories Ltd soaring 3.6% amid rising demand for medical supplies and testing services.

Auto stocks also advanced, with Maruti Suzuki India Ltd adding 2%.

(Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)