Indian shares fall 1% as surging coronavirus cases spook investors

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Indian shares fell sharply for a second straight session on Thursday, led by losses in financial and technology companies, on concerns over the possibility of fresh restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus cases.

A broker reacts while trading at his computer terminal at a stock brokerage firm in Mumbai, February 26, 2016. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/Files

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex fell 1% to 14,405 and 48,675.66, respectively, as of 0507 GMT. The indexes had dropped nearly 2% in the previous session.

India’s daily COVID-19 cases hit a five-month high on Thursday and the country put a temporary hold on all major exports of the AstraZeneca coronavirus shot made by the Serum Institute of India to meet domestic demand.

“The market is definitely worried about the impact of the spread of COVID-19. There would be an economic impact and there are fears over a partial lockdown,” KK Mittal, an investment adviser at Venus India.

Analysts also expect huge volatility in markets ahead of the monthly expiry of derivatives.

India’s Nifty bank index fell 1.3% and the public sector bank index dropped 2.4%.

Selling in the Nifty bank index, which has fallen more than 5% this month, has been a major pain point for domestic markets despite a major relief to the sector this week after India’s top court rejected pleas for extending moratorium on bank loan repayments, analysts said.

The Nifty information technology index fell 1.3%.

Only six stocks traded in the positive territory in the bluechip Nifty 50 index, with heavyweights Reliance Industries and Tata Consultancy Services weighing the most, falling 1% each.

Shares of speciality chemicals maker Laxmi Organic Industries surged nearly 19% in its market debut in Mumbai, while those of engineering company Craftsman Automation dropped 8.8%.

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