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India shares fall to one-month lows, dragged by fuel retailers

Oil & Natural Gas, Oil India also decline amid concerns over subsidy sharing

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Indian shares dropped to more than-one-month lows, hurt by losses in fuel retailers and commodity producers. Weak global risk appetite after President Donald Trump tempered expectations of a U.S.-China trade deal also weighed on demand for equities.

The BSE Sensex fell 0.9% to 34,344.91 and the Nifty 50 Index declined 1% to 10,430.35, their lowest levels since Apr. 18 and Apr. 11, respectively. Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum dropped by at least 6% each, and Indian Oil lost fell 4.9%. Business Standard newspaper reported that the country's petroleum minister will meet oil marketing companies on Wednesday to discuss surging petrol and diesel prices. The companies may be asked to freeze prices as a temporary arrangement to provide relief to customers, the report added.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the government said it is taking a long-term view on the pricing of gasoline and diesel to protect consumers amid rising global crude oil prices.

Oil & Natural Gas dropped 4.8% and Oil India ended 3.2% lower amid worries that crude oil explorers may be asked to share the subsidy burden on petroleum products.

Miner Vedanta fell 6.2% after the Madras High Court issued an interim stay on expansion of a copper plant run by its unit in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The order came a day after at least nine people were killed and many more were injured during a protest against the plant.

Aluminum and copper producer Hindalco slipped 2.5% and Tata Steel shed 6.6% before the release of the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting minutes that are likely to have an impact on the dollar and in turn, on the outlook for commodities.

Most regional markets declined on Wednesday before the minutes of the Fed's May meeting, which is expected to provide explanations on the central bank's "symmetric" inflation target.

President Trump's remarks that signalled dissatisfaction with the way trade talks with China were progressing and his suggestions that the planned June North Korea summit may not happen also hurt investor appetite.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index slipped 0.7%. Hong Kong and Shanghai benchmark equity indexes fell 1.8% and 1.4%, leading Asian markets lower. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were last down almost 200 points.

Among major winners on the BSE on Wednesday, Cipla gained 1.6% despite its lower-than-expected March quarter net profit.

State Bank of India climbed 3.6%, adding to Tuesday's 3.7% gains. Analysts said the asset quality cycle is likely to turn as majority of the provisions for souring loans are now provided for by the lender.

Motherson Sumi fell 4.4% after the auto-parts company reported a lower-than-expected 9% increase in net profit for the January-March period. L&T Technology Services jumped 3.6% after its March quarter earnings exceeded estimates.

--Nimesh Vora

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