Indian shares muted as virus cases near 5.5 mln; HCL Tech jumps

BENGALURU, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Indian shares were muted on Monday as gains in pharma and IT stocks helped offset losses in other sectors, while surging domestic cases of the novel coronavirus and the passage of a contentious farm bill by lawmakers kept investors cautious.

By 0357 GMT, the broader NSE Nifty 50 index was up 0.06% at 11,513.25 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex 0.06% at 38,876.41.

The Nifty IT index rose 1.5% and was the top gainer among sectors, while the Nifty pharma index added 0.5%.

IT services company HCL Technologies was the top percentage gainer on the Nifty 50, up 4.35%, after the company announced plans to buy Australian firm DWS Ltd.

India’s coronavirus cases surged past 5.4 million by Sunday, government data showed.

The country also passed three laws last week aimed at allowing farmers sell their produce directly to food processors and retailers, sparking protests from opposition lawmakers who said the law would leave farmers at the mercy of large corporations.

Among other sectors and shares, the Nifty banking index , which tracks both state-owned and private-sector lenders, fell for a third straight session and was down 0.3%.

Bajaj Auto was the top percentage loser on the Nifty 50, falling 1.4%. It dragged the Nifty auto index lower by 0.3%. (Reporting by Derek Francis in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)