Indian shares tepid as IT, pharma stocks drag; Ukraine in focus

A general view of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), after Sensex surpassed the 50,000 level for the first time, in Mumbai, India, January 21, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

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BENGALURU, Feb 18 (Reuters) – Indian shares were subdued on Friday, pressured by IT and pharma stocks, with investors staying mostly on the sidelines as the East-West standoff over Ukraine deepened and roiled global markets the entire week.

The NSE Nifty 50 index (.NSEI) was down 0.1% at 17,288.05, as of 0505 GMT, while the S&P BSE Sensex (.BSESN) dipped 0.1% at 57,842.46. If losses hold, both the indexes will record their second weekly decline.

Artillery and mortar attacks in Ukraine on Thursday renewed Western fears of an imminent Russian invasion, triggering a selloff in global equities. read more

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But Asian markets recouped some losses early on Friday after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accepted an invitation to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov next week provided Russia does not invade Ukraine, the U.S. State Department said.

“There is a lot of unpredictability in the market. We are into rising yields era. Foreign investors have been net sellers. If interest rates rise, the outflows are likely to continue,” said Anita Gandhi, director at Arihant Capital Markets.

“Some amount of stability on the global front is needed for investors to take a concrete view going ahead, which is not happening as of now,” Gandhi said.

Foreign investors have sold a net $6.41 billion in Indian equities so far this year, Refinitiv data showed, compared with net purchases of $5.82 billion in the same period last year.

Investors also fretted over inflationary risks and higher costs affecting the performance of companies. Shares of Ambuja Cements (ABUJ.NS) slumped nearly 5% after a steep escalation in fuel prices cut its quarterly profit by half.

The Nifty IT index (.NIFTYIT) fell 0.5% while the pharma index (.NIPHARM) dropped 0.8%.

Shares of Nxtdigital rose 13.5% after its board approved the transfer of digital, media and communications business to Hinduja Global Solutions (HGSL.NS).

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Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman and Gaurav Dogra in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Sherry Jacob-Phillips

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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