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India shares fall, dragged by Tata Consultancy, ahead of key global events

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Indian shares fell Thursday as investors were cautious ahead of key global events. Tata Consultancy Services led the declines after Nomura downgraded the stock citing expensive valuations.

The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex lost 0.2%, or 57.92 points, to 31,213.36, while the broader NSE Nifty 50 closed 0.2% lower, or 16.65 points, at 9,647.25. Tata Consultancy dropped 3.6% to 2,521.50 rupees, recording its biggest fall in more than four months, as Nomura cut its rating to 'Reduce' from 'Neutral,' citing a mismatch between fundamentals and the stock price.

"With the monetary policy decision a past event, markets seemed to have retracted into a shell, awaiting further sparks," Anand James, chief market strategist at Geojit Financial Services, said. "The U.K. elections and the ECB meet added to the restraint."

Eighteen of the 30 Sensex constituents ended lower, while overall declining issues edged advancing ones 1,383 to 1,304 and 169 stocks were unchanged.

Across regional markets, participants awaited a slew of events across the U.K, U.S and Euro-zone for further cues. Markets await the European Central Bank's policy review for cues on its current stimulus programme, the general election in the U.K., and former U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey's testimony to senators that will cover the allegations over Russia's interference in last year's presidential election.

State-owned GAIL India plummeted 3.4% to 388.70 rupees after brokerage Motial Oswal downgraded the company's rating to 'Sell,' citing potential threat of losses from U.S. contracts.

Private lender ICICI Bank declined 1.4% to close at 320.15 rupees, while energy conglomerate Reliance Industries slipped 0.7% to 1,329.90 rupees.

Pharmaceutical stocks outperformed the broader market with the BSE gauge of top drug makers ending up 1.6%, as attractive valuations after recent declines aided interest from funds. The stocks had largely missed out on the broader market's record-breaking rally owing to a slew of disappointing earnings and increased regulatory hurdles.

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, India's biggest drug maker by market value, rose 3.4% to 528.45 rupees, climbing the most since Mar. 14. Dr. Reddy's Laboratories ended up 3.8% at 2,637.25 rupees, marking its largest single-session gain since Apr. 3.

Mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corp. closed 2.3% higher at 1,634.05 rupees, a record level. In a note to exchanges, the company said its unit HDFC Standard Life Insurance and Max Life remain committed to a merger and they were evaluating options after India's insurance regulator reiterated its opposition to the deal between the companies along with Max Financial Services and Max India.

Tata Steel ended up 1.6% to 498.95 rupees. CLSA raised its price target on the stock to 710 rupees from 570 rupees.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.4% while China's Shanghai Composite index advanced 0.3%. South Korea's Kospi index rose 0.2% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended 0.3% higher.

--Dhanya Ann Thoppil

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