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India shares end little changed as refiners slump, erasing early gains

Fuel retailers fall on concerns government may interfere in petrol, diesel pricing

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Indian shares ended little changed on Wednesday, erasing most of the initial advances, as a selloff in state-owned fuel marketing companies offset gains in Reliance Industries.

The BSE Sensex ended up less than 0.1% to 32,186.41, while the broader NSE index declined 0.1% to close at 10,079.30. Earlier in the day, Sensex had climbed as much as 0.6%, while the Nifty hit 10,131.95, just shy of its record high of 10,137.85, after all the three major U.S. stock indices had hit all-time highs overnight.

The benchmark index pared the advances in the last hour of trade as oil marketing companies slumped after media reports the government will ask them to absorb any further increase in global crude oil prices and won't let them pass on the higher costs to consumers.

Meanwhile, data released late Tuesday showed that consumer prices In Asia's third-largest economy rose 3.36% on-year in August, a faster than expected pace. Another set of data showed that July industrial output grew 1.2%.

"Despite a weak factory output print for July and rise in retail inflation reading for August, market's structural setup looks favorable and it remains technically better poised to continue with the ongoing momentum," said Sageraj Bariya, Vice President - Institutional Sales at East India Securities.

Eighteen of of the 30 Sensex constituents ended lower, while overall declining issues beat advancing ones 1,634 to 974 while 157 remained unchanged.

Refiners were the main losers in Wednesday's trade. Bharat Petroleum Corp. slumped 6.2%, Indian Oil Corp. slid 4.3%, and rival Hindustan Petroleum Corp. lost 5.1%. The government has no plan to interfere in fuel retailers' pricing decisions and it has not yet asked companies to absorb the recent increase in crude oil prices, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters after market hours.

Reliance Industries advanced 3.1% to 849.10 amid optimism related to its telecom business and bets of higher gross refining margins this quarter, analysts said.

Among other notable movers on Wednesday, cigarette and consumer goods maker ITC fell 2.2%, while private lender HDFC Bank rose 0.5%, its seventh straight session of gains, after several brokerages upgraded its price target.

State Bank of India ended little changed at 273.35 rupees, reversing a 1.1% gain. Its subsidiary SBI Life Insurance Co.'s up to $1.3 billion initial public offering will open for subscriptions on Sep. 20.

--Dhanya Ann Thoppil

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