India shares slip ahead of Fed decision; software stocks fall on rupee gains
MUMBAI (NewsRise)-- Indian shares edged lower on Wednesday as investors await the U.S. Federal Reserve's interest rate decision. Software stocks declined after the rupee hit a 16-month high.
The benchmark BSE Sensex ended 0.2% lower, or 44.52 points, at 29,398.11, while the broader NSE Nifty 50 index declined 0.02%, or 2.20 points, at 9,084.80. The index had risen to a record high in the previous session amid bets that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would push ahead with more economic reforms after his Bharatiya Janata Party secured a decisive election win in the country's most populous state Uttar Pradesh.
Infosys, India's second-largest software exporter, fell 2.2% to 1,012.10 rupees, while larger rival Tata Consultancy Services declined 2.4% to 2,500.30 rupees, sending a gauge of software stocks on the BSE down 1.8%. These companies, which get more than 60% of their revenue from the U.S., were weighed down by the gains in the rupee. On Wednesday, the currency hit 65.41 to a dollar, its highest level since Nov. 3, 2015.
Foreign investors bought a net $646.22 million worth of shares in the previous session.
"The market settled with small losses after a range-bound movement and the software heavyweights fell due to the rupee's appreciation," said Vinod Nair, head of research at Geojit Financial Services. "Investors are now waiting for more clarity from the Fed meet for any change in the pace of rate hikes this year."
The U.S. central bank's two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting ends later Wednesday. The authority is widely expected to increase interest rates by at least 25 basis points.
On the Sensex, fifteen of the 30 constituents ended lower, while overall declining issues edged past advancing ones 1,413 to 1,404 and 180 closed unchanged.
Among other key movers, Reliance Industries, India's biggest private company by sales, gained 1.2% to 1,304.40 rupees after media reports said more than 388 million shares changed hands through block deals on Wednesday. The details of the block deals were not yet known.
Idea Cellular, a constituent of the Nifty index, jumped 9.6% to 112.90 rupees amid news reports that American Tower Corp. was close to buying out its telecom tower business. ATC's global management is in the country to finalise the transaction details, according to the reports.
Engineering and construction company Larsen & Toubro declined 0.7% at 1,547.30 rupees after unit L&T Realty sold its entire stake in L&T South City Projects to Pragnya Group for 1.9 billion rupees.
In rest of Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended down 0.2% each. China's Shanghai Composite index rose 0.1% while South Korea's Kospi index closed little changed.
--Dhanya Ann Thoppil