Indian shares fall as investors eye stimulus details; Mumbai hit by power outage

BENGALURU, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Indian shares turned negative Monday afternoon as the country’s finance minister began a media address to discuss ways to revive a coronavirus-battered economy, and the financial hub of Mumbai was hit by a widespread power outage.

The NSE Nifty 50 index, which earlier in the session breached a psychologically significant 12,000 level last seen in February, reversed its course to trade 0.37% lower at 11,870, as of 0759 GMT, while the S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.27%.

Investors were waiting for cues from Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as she addressed the media, and from Consumer Price Inflation numbers due later in the day.

Sitharaman announced steps to stimulate consumer demand including advance payment of a part of the wages of federal government employees for spending during the festival season.

Meanwhile, a grid failure caused a widespread power outage in Mumbai and surrounding areas, though the National Stock Exchange and BSE, as well Mumbai’s international airport, said they were operating normally.

Power has now been restored to many areas of the city, officials and witnesses said.

While the central bank has delivered 115 basis points of interest rate cuts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and rolled out measures to boost liquidity and lending, experts have called for more fiscal stimulus to lift the economy from its worst contraction in four decades.

The Nifty Bank Index, which had risen as much as 1.4% earlier in the session, reversed its course and was last down 0.8%.

IT major Infosys gained 1.8% ahead of its quarterly results due later this week. The Nifty IT index was up 1.1%, after Tata Consultancy announced a big buyback and posted strong margins last week. (Reporting by Philip George in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Subhranshu Sahu)