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India shares decline, dragged by fuel retailers, banks

Oil & Natural Gas, Sun Pharmaceutical gain

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Indian shares fell Thursday, weighed by decline in fuel retailers after crude oil prices rose to seven-week highs.

The BSE Sensex fell 0.4% to 33,006.27 and the Nifty 50 Index declined 0.4% to close at 10,114.75. Bharat Petroleum declined 3.5%, Hindustan Petroleum dropped 3.1%, and Indian Oil lost 1.6% after Brent crude prices pushed toward the $70 per barrel. Crude oil producer Oil & Natural Gas Corp. advanced 2.5%.

ICICI Bank declined 2.1% and State Bank of India fell 2.5%, the biggest contributors to losses on the benchmark indexes.

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries added 0.6% after the U.S. drug regulator approved a medicine used in the treatment of plaque psoriasis. Vedanta rose 1.8% to 291.15 rupees after Bank of America Merrill Lunch initiated coverage with a 'buy' rating and a target price of 380 rupees, saying the company offered significant exposure to zinc, which has a robust price outlook amid tightness in global supply.

Meanwhile, U.S. markets fell overnight and most Asian equities declined after the Federal Reserve indicated a faster pace of rate increases in coming years. The Fed's dot plot - an indication of where rates could be headed - signaled that there would likely be two more rate hikes this year after the Fed expectedly raised rates by a quarter percentage point on Wednesday.

"The Fed not indicating three more rate hikes this year is positive, but that was to an extent invalidated by the higher forecasts for 2019 and 2020," said Akash Jain, vice president of research at Mumbai-based Ajcon Global. "The immediate concern for the Indian markets is Brent climbing towards the $70 level."

The regional sentiment was not helped by remarks made by a White House official that President Donald trump will announce tariffs on China later Thursday. The Nikkei Asia300 Index of companies outside Japan dropped 0.8%.

Among other major movers, IDFC jumped 1.7%. The Times of India reported that the financial services company had begun discussions to merge or sell its asset management company for about 40 billion rupees ($612 million).

Hindustan Construction tumbled 17.3% following a report in DNA newspaper that its unit Lavasa is planning to declare bankruptcy owing to challenges faced in raising money for project completion.

Jindal Drilling & Industries jumped 8.1% after the company said an arbitration award of $31.77 million passed against the company was settled for $9.1 million, with complete waiver of all costs, legal and other expenses.

--Nimesh Vora

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