INDIA STOCKS-IT, financials lead Indian shares lower after Fed rate hike

BY Reuters | ECONOMIC | 03/23/23 06:08 AM EDT

(Updates closing levels, adds analysts' comments)

By Bharath Rajeswaran

BENGALURU, March 23 (Reuters) - Indian shares settled lower on Thursday, dragged by information technology stocks and financials, after the U.S. Federal Reserve reiterated its fight against inflation with a quarter-point rate hike even as it signalled that a pause in policy tightening could be near.

After two sessions of gains, the Nifty 50 index closed 0.44% lower at 17,076.90, while the S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.5% to 57,925.28. The benchmarks traded between 0.6% losses and 0.3% gains as investors digested the Fed's policy decision and comments.

Moreover, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen ruled out "blanket insurance" for all domestic banking deposits, which could further dent IT firms as they earn a significant share of their revenue from the United States and Europe.

Eight of the 13 major sectoral indexes declined, with the heavyweight IT index losing 0.77%. HCLTech, Wipro, Infosys were among the top Nifty 50 losers.

"Economic uncertainty and a disproportionate exposure to the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector are the key risks for the IT sector," said Harsha Upadhyaya, president and chief investment officer for equity at Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Company.

The drop in Indian equities was in contrast to the surge in Asian stocks, while U.S. stock index futures also climbed after having closed sharply lower on Wednesday.

Indian financial stocks also snapped a two-day winning streak to decline 0.65%.

While domestic lenders are expected to be largely insulated from the global banking crisis, India has asked state-owned banks to submit details of their bond portfolios ahead of a meeting on Saturday, sources told Reuters.

"There won't be major panic as India's banks face no major structural risks, but sentiment will remain subdued and markets will remain rangebound," said Avinash Gorakshakar, head of research at Profitmart Securities.

Vedanta Ltd fell nearly 5% after a media report said parent Vedanta Resources' Chairman Anil Agarwal is looking to sell a stake in the company. Vedanta called the report "baseless and untrue".

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd lost nearly 5% after the government proposed to sell a stake of up to 3.5% in the company. (Reporting by Bharath Rajeswaran in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)

In general the bond market is volatile, and fixed income securities carry interest rate risk. (As interest rates rise, bond prices usually fall, and vice versa. This effect is usually more pronounced for longer-term securities.) Fixed income securities also carry inflation risk and credit and default risks for both issuers and counterparties. Unlike individual bonds, most bond funds do not have a maturity date, so avoiding losses caused by price volatility by holding them until maturity is not possible.

Lower-quality debt securities generally offer higher yields, but also involve greater risk of default or price changes due to potential changes in the credit quality of the issuer. Any fixed income security sold or redeemed prior to maturity may be subject to loss.

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