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Asia300

India shares fall for 2nd day as investors await local election results

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Indian shares fell for a second straight day on Wednesday, as investors were reluctant to place fresh bets ahead of election results in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and next week's policy review by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The benchmark BSE Sensex declined 0.3%, or 97.62 points, to 28,901.94, while the broader NSE Nifty 50 index ended 0.3% lower, or 22.60 points, at 8,924.30. Blue chip stocks led the fall, with software exporter Infosys down 1.2% to 1,007.25 rupees and energy conglomerate Reliance Industries dropping 1% to 1,291.90 rupees. Both these stocks contributed more than half of the market's decline.

"Markets continued their consolidation path due to the growing caution on state election results and the Fed meet," said Vinod Nair, head of research at Geojit Financial Services. "Investors are keenly waiting for U.S job data on Friday to take more confirmation on the upcoming Fed review," he said.

Exit polls for India's five state elections will be released late Thursday. A victory by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party in northern state of Uttar Pradesh, which sends the highest number of lawmakers to the lower house of parliament, will boost his chances of retaining power in 2019. Results of the poll are due on Saturday.

The Fed is due to conclude its two-day policy meet on Mar. 15, and the market is pricing in a nearly 90% chance of an increase in rates.

Twenty two of the 30 Sensex constituents ended lower, while overall on the BSE, declining issues beat advancing ones 1,797to 1,021 and 168 issues were unchanged.

Among other key movers, state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corp. declined 1.8% to 192.75 rupees after a 1.3% gain in the previous session.

Kotak Mahindra Bank, part of the Nifty index, ended up 0.9% at 824.50 rupees after jumping to a record 839.75 rupees earlier in the day on media report Canadian pension fund manager Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec bought a stake in the private lender via a block deal on Wednesday. The bank's board also approved an increase in foreign institutional investors limit to 42% from 40% earlier.

Tata Consultancy Services, India's biggest software exporter, ended higher for the second straight session, adding 0.5% at 2,513.90 rupees on sustained purchases by funds, dealers said.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index ended down 0.5%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.4%. China's Shanghai Composite index ended little changed and South Korea's Kospi index rose 0.1%.

--Dhanya Ann Thoppil

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