July 24, 2020 / 5:33 AM / 20 days ago

Indian shares slip as virus surge spurs profit taking

* NSE, BSE indexes down about 0.5% each

* NSE banking, financial indexes fall 1.9%

* Reliance gains 4.5%, scales fresh peak

By Derek Francis

BENGALURU, July 24 (Reuters) - Indian shares slid on Friday as investors took profit on some of this week’s big gainers following a record jump in daily domestic cases of the novel coronavirus, with a muted start in broader Asian markets also denting sentiment.

The NSE Nifty 50 fell 0.52% to 11,157.30 by 0449 GMT and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex 0.48% to 37,961.01, with banks and financials leading the declines. However, both the indexes were on track for a fifth straight weekly gain.

The Nifty and Sensex have gained more than 33% each since India first went into lockdown in late-March, while COVID-19 cases that numbered in hundreds at that time, have touched 1.29 million by Friday morning, according to government data https://www.mohfw.gov.in.

Total cases in the country rose by a fresh record of 49,310 in the last 24 hours and the death toll topped 30,000.

“There is profit-booking on positions that have been built over weeks,” said Anand James, chief market strategist at Geojit Financial Services in Kochi.

“Growth worries have started to resurface and most sectors are seeing some sort of pressure.”

Broader Asian markets were also muted as China vowed retaliation against the United States after Washington closed Beijing’s consulate in Houston, Texas.

In Mumbai, the Nifty banking index, which tracks both state-owned and private-sector lenders, and the Nifty financials index slid about 1.9% each.

Axis Bank was the top laggard on the Nifty, falling 3.4%, followed by large shadow lender HDFC Ltd , which slid 3%.

Reliance Industries rose for a sixth day and hit a fresh record high after a media report said Amazon was in talks for a potential investment in the conglomerate’s retail arm. The stock gained 4.48% and helped limit losses on the indexes.

Pharma shares also gained, with the Nifty pharma index rising as much as 1.5%. Drugmaker Sun Pharma rose 3%. (Reporting by Derek Francis in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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