Sensex, Nifty end lower on Covid-19 fears, financial stocks suffer

Indian shares closed lower on Friday as record daily increases of domestic coronavirus cases threatened to disrupt an economic recovery, with financial stocks taking the brunt of the losses.

The NSE 50 Index fell 0.42 per cent to 10,768.05 and the S&P BSE 0.39 per cent to 36,594.33 points.

But the indexes closed the week up about 1.5 per cent each, recording their fourth straight weekly gain, following a rally driven by a flush of liquidity and hopes for a Covid-19 vaccine.

Cases in the world’s second-most populous country jumped by 26,506 to 793,802 as of Friday morning, including 21,604 deaths, health ministry data showed.

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Record jumps in cases in many US states also chipped away at risk appetite, with US futures and stocks in Asia and Europe retreating.

Among individual shares, top mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corp suffered its worst day in more than a month, closing 2.9 per cent lower after latest shareholding data suggested China’s central bank sold some or its entire stake in the lender during the June quarter.

Private-sector lenders Axis Bank and IndusInd Bank slipped 3.1 per cent each, and the Financial Services Index, which has plunged nearly 24 per cent so far this year, fell 1.9 per cent.

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Karnataka Bank rose 3.7 per cent to a 16-week closing high after reporting a rise in quarterly profit.

State-run Punjab National Bank fell 5.5 per cent after it reported loans made to shadow lender DHFL worth Rs 3,689 crore ($490.95 million) as “fraud”.

Losses were limited by Reliance Industries, which jumped 3 per cent to a record closing high after BP paid the conglomerate $1 billion to set up a joint network of thousands of petrol stations across India.