Indian shares end lower as pharma, IT stocks weigh ahead of budget

Bengaluru, Jan 29 (Agency) Indian shares ended a volatile session lower on Friday, weighed down by declines in pharmaceutical and information technology firms, to mark their sixth session of losses ahead of the budget on Monday. The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index fell 1.32% to 13,634.6 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex closed 1.26% weaker at 46,285.77. The indexes ended the week 5.1% and 5.3% lower, making it their second straight weekly loss. With Friday’s close, the Nifty 50 has declined 2.5% in January, after scaling record highs on multiple occasions during the month as investors bet on a quick economic recovery aided by the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.

On Friday afternoon, the Indian government forecast a robust economic recovery of 11% for fiscal 2021-22 in its annual economic statement. Markets reversed some losses to edge up in the aftermath, but eventually retreated back into the red. Shares of Dr Reddy’s Laboratories fell 6.6% to their lowest level since Sept. 16 2020, after the drugmaker’s third-quarter profit missed estimates on a 6 billion rupee impairment charge. “Dr Reddy’s numbers have disappointed due to the provisions and that has led to some nervousness in the pharma sector… the market discounts everything very fast and people have to shift their positions,” said Anita Gandhi, director at Arihant Capital Markets in Mumbai. Shares of IT heavyweights Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services ended the day 2.9 and 2.7% lower to be among top drags on the Nifty.

The Nifty Pharma index was down 1.8%, while the Nifty IT index closed 2.6% lower. Top private lender HDFC Bank was the biggest boost, ending the day 1.4% higher and helping the Nifty Bank index advance 0.7%. India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to unveil plans to boost economic growth, with officials also cautioning of tough choices that may have to be made to keep in check the government’s ballooning debt.