Indian shares drop on Omicron fears; cenbank meeting in focus

The Nifty IT index fell 1.40% and was set to mark its second straight session of losses

  
A man looks at a screen displaying news of markets update inside the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai, India June 20, 2016.

A man looks at a screen displaying news of markets update inside the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai, India June 20, 2016.

Reuters/Danish Siddiqui

BENGALURU: Indian shares fell on Monday as the country recorded more cases of the Omicron variant over the weekend, while investors awaited a central bank decision that could leave interest rates on hold to sustain an economic recovery from the pandemic lows in 2020.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index slipped 0.38% to 17,130.80 by 0445 GMT and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex dropped 0.38% to 57,475.65, with auto and information technology (IT) stocks leading the decline.

The Nifty IT index fell 1.40% and was set to mark its second straight session of losses. The Nifty Realty index rose nearly 2%, while the Nifty Metal index climbed 1.35%.

"Metal stocks are currently at an attractive valuation and we don't see any more correction in them in the near term. IT has performed well overall, but since activity in the U.S. is much lower for December, a slightly muted performance can be expected," said Anita Gandhi, director at Arihant Capital Markets.

The Nifty Auto index fell more than a percent due to overall weak November sales data.

International markets are likely to slow down on Omicron concerns and Indian markets are expected to follow suit for some more time as there are no fresh positive triggers, Gandhi said.

India's tally of reported cases of the heavily mutated Omicron coronavirus variant rose to 12 on Sunday after the state of Maharashtra said it had detected seven new cases. 

The three-day monetary policy committee meeting of India's central bank starts on Monday. According to a Reuters poll of economists, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will hold rates at its December meeting and hike its reverse repo rate early next year and increase repo rate the following quarter. 

While the RBI is expected to maintain status quo on the interest rate policy, investors will watch out for commentary from the central bank to get direction.

(Reporting by Shivani Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu) ((ShivaniSingh1@thomsonreuters.com; +91 89 6969 2349))


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