Indian shares ended lower in a highly volatile trading session on Tuesday, as concerns over the Omicron coronavirus variant wiped out positive sentiment surrounding expectations of strong gross domestic product data later in the day.
The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index ended 0.41% lower at 16,983.20 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.34% to 57,064.87. Both indexes hit their first monthly drop in seven, falling more than 3%.
Economists have projected GDP data, due at 1200 GMT, will show an 8.4% year-on-year growth in the July-September period, according to a Reuters poll last week, the fastest pace among major economies, vs a 7.5% contraction in the same quarter last year.
However, domestic markets were weighed down by volatility in the global markets after the chief executive of U.S. drugmaker Moderna warned COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the variant.
The warning triggered a fall in world share markets and a scramble to safer currencies and bonds on Tuesday.
"There aren't many India-specific factors of concern, but the new variant is making markets follow global trends," said Anita Gandhi, director, Arihant Capital Markets.
Most major sub-indexes were trading lower after opening up, with only the Nifty IT and pharma indexes .NIFTYIT .NIPHARM bucking the wider trend, ending the session up 0.5% and 0.1% respectively.
Metals and auto stocks .NIFTYMET .NIFTYAUTO led the drag on the blue-chip index, falling 1.94% and 0.94% respectively.
Among individual stocks, Tata Steel Ltd and Kotak Mahindra Bank were the bottom performers.
"The optimism (of the market) was quickly substituted with a sudden sell-off in the domestic market as global equities slipped into negative territory following Omicron experts' advice to be cautious," Vinod Nair, head of research at Geojit Financial Services, said in a note.
India's economic data is expected to show recovery strengthened in the July-September quarter helped by a pick-up in consumer spending.
(Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Shailesh Kuber)