October 15, 2019 / 4:30 AM / a month ago

CORRECTED-Indian shares edge higher; Hindustan Unilever rises after upbeat earnings

(Corrects month to August from September in third paragraph)

* NSE, BSE indexes rise about 0.3% each

* Hindustan Unilever up about 1%

* Infosys falls for second session, down about 2%

BENGALURU, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Indian shares were higher on Tuesday, as investors hoped for further rate cuts from the central bank to tackle the economic slowdown amid a rise in inflation during the last month.

The broader NSE index was up 0.28% at 11,371.35 as of 0413 GMT, while the benchmark BSE index rose 0.3% at 38,328.28.

Annual retail inflation rose to 3.99% in last month, driven by higher food prices, up sharply compared with 3.21% in August and higher than the 3.70% forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.

However, economists said GDP growth could fall as low as 5.8%, dragged down by a slump in consumer demand and investment, encouraging the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cut rates for the sixth consecutive time at its next meeting in December.

“With growth numbers remaining fairly weak we expect RBI to continue with its rate cuts,” said Shubhada Rao, chief economist at Yes Bank. “For remaining FY20, we expect 25-40 bps of rate cut.”

Consumer stocks led gains after sector heavyweight Hindustan Unilever’s (HUL) September-quarter earnings beat expectations, despite the company flagging near-term woes in the rural market.

HUL was up about 1% and the Nifty fast-moving consumer goods index rose 0.5%.

Oil marketing companies Indian Oil Corp and Bharat Petroleum Corp were up 1% and 2%, respectively, and topped the blue-chip gainers on the Nifty index due to favourable oil prices.

Crude fell after weak Chinese economic data for September added to lingering concerns about the feasibility of the U.S.-Sino trade deal announced by U.S. President Donald Trump last week.

Among losers, Infosys continued to fall for a second session and shed about 2% after its September-quarter earnings underscored the spending squeeze among Western clients for the company and the country’s $180 billion information technology sector at large. (Reporting by Derek Francis in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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