BENGALURU - Indian shares fell for a fifth straight session on Thursday, dragged lower by bank and information technology stocks, as investors locked in gains ahead of the federal budget next week.
The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index was down 0.95% at 13,834.90 by 0507 GMT, after falling as much as 1.2% to its lowest level since Dec. 24. The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex slid 0.94% to 46,965.92.
"The market has been on a downward trend during the last couple of days and that is not surprising because during the last two years, we have seen the fortnight preceding the budget to be a cautious time" said Anand James, chief market strategist at Geojit Financial Services in Kochi.
"This year, we have approached the budget on a high and that is all the more reason for traders to take some money off the table," James said.
Indian equities had coasted at record highs for multiple sessions this month as investors bet on an economic recovery from the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines as well as a boost from foreign fund inflows.
Axis Bank, which fell to a near one-month low earlier in the session after reporting a slump in quarterly profit, reversed losses to trade 1.6% higher. The Nifty Bank index shed 1.3%.
The Nifty IT index declined 1.5%, weighed down by heavyweights Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys that shed 1% and 1.4%, respectively.
Reliance Industries bounced after three sessions of losses that saw the conglomerate shed over 10%, and rose 0.6% to be the top boost to the Nifty 50 index.
HDFC Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank were the top drags to the Nifty, falling 3% and 3.1%, each.
Investors now await results from automaker Maruti Suzuki India and InterGlobe Aviation Ltd — the operator of the country's largest airline IndiGo.
(Reporting by Philip George in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V) ((P.email@example.com))