* Sensex down 0.9 pct as investors book profits
* Shares post 2.0 pct weekly fall, first since December
* Banks lead losses, HDFC slumps on Citi stake sale
(Updates to close, changes dateline)
By Henry Foy
MUMBAI, Feb 24 Indian shares posted their
first weekly fall in 2012 on Friday, sliding 2 percent over five
sessions, as investors booked profits on renewed worries about
rising global oil prices and the country's widening fiscal
Lenders such as State Bank of India, ICICI Bank
and HDFC Bank were the big losers, as
expectations for a rate cut in March were tempered by the rally
in global oil prices, which could make it difficult for the
central bank to ease policy.
Leading mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corp
fell as much as 6.2 percent after Citigroup Inc
sold its entire stake in the company for about $1.9 billion.
"There is a lot of profit booking, as people look to take
their money off the table with a lot of uncertainty ahead with
events like the budget coming up," said Hitash Dang, vice
president at Jaypee Capital.
The main 30-share benchmark index fell 0.86
percent, or 154.93 points, to close at 17,923.57, with 16 of its
components losing value.
The benchmark has gained over 16 percent since the end of
Foreign funds have helped drive the rally, investing more
than $5 billion so far this year, data from the Securities and
Exchange Board of India showed. This is in stark contrast to
2011, when they were net sellers of about $500 million.
"(The) market turned bearish as investors booked profits
from recent rallies as concerns mounted over the state of the
global economy, including rising oil prices," HDFC Securities
wrote in a note on Friday.
India's federal fiscal gap for the current
financial year is widely expected to be 5.5 percent of GDP,
wider than 4.6 percent projected by the government in February
India imports about 80 percent of the oil it consumes and
the rise in prices could worsen a widening trade deficit.
Brent crude climbed above $124, on track for a fifth
straight weekly gain, as worries over Iranian supply and upbeat
U.S. economic data offset concerns that high oil prices could
snuff out demand.
Investors are also watching the elections underway in Uttar
Pradesh, India's largest state, which may have an impact on the
stability of federal government. Counting of votes is expected
to begin in early March.
"If the outcome of the election were to add uncertainty for
the government, it will be seen as negative by the market," said
Arun Kejriwal, a strategist at Indian research firm KRIS.
SBI, the country's biggest lender, ended the session down
2.4 percent at 2,205.60 rupees ($45) on Friday. The state-run
bank's planned share sale to the government was priced at a
discount to Thursday's close price.
Rivals ICICI Bank ended down 1.3 percent at 931.65 rupees
and HDFC Bank shed 1.6 percent to close at 524.65 rupees. The
sector index fell 2.0 percent.
Housing Development Finance Corp ended the day down 3.6
percent at 676.40 rupees.
Shares in Mangalore Chemicals jumped as much as 16
percent after newspaper reports said UB Group Chairman Vijay
Mallya had been approached by potential buyers of UB's 30.4
percent stake in the company.
The stock ended 10.2 percent higher at 44.35 rupees.
The broader 50-share NSE index closed 0.98 percent
lower at 5,429.30. In the broader market, just over twice as
many stocks lost value as those that gained, with a
more-than-average 1.03 billion shares changing hands.
European shares rose on Friday as investors focused on
bright spots in the global growth outlook, but unease about
soaring oil prices and implementation of Greece's rescue deal
tempered risk appetite.
At 1010 GMT, global stocks as measured by MSCI
were up 0.4 percent thanks in part to a positive
session in Asia.
STOCKS ON THE MOVE
* Shasun Pharmaceuticals shares rose 8.5 percent
after the company said its board would meet on Feb. 27 to
consider a preferential allotment of shares to private-equity
* DB Realty, part of India's DB Group, closed 7.1
percent lower, extending losses to a third day. Abu Dhabi-based
Etisalat said this week it is shutting down its Indian
mobile joint venture with DB Group and has launched legal
proceedings against its Indian partners.
DB Realty has said the shutdown of the mobile venture would
have no bearing on its financials because this was an investment
by its founders in their individual capacity.
* Shares in ABB Ltd, unit of Swiss engineering
group ABB, fell as much as 6.4 percent before closing
down 5.4 percent after the company posted lower-than-estimated
sales and margin growth.
MAIN TOP THREE BY VOLUME
* HDFC on 158 million shares
* Lanco Infratech on 96.4 million shares
* Sterlite Industries on 34.8 million shares
($1 = 49.1950 Indian rupees)
FACTORS TO WATCH
* Indian rupee report
* Indian bond report
* Dollar hits near 3-1/2 month low vs Swiss franc
* Brent rises above $124 on Iran jitters, US data
* Shares, euro firmer but growth worries lurk
* Wall St rises, nearing 4-year highs
* For closing rates of Indian ADRs
* Foreign institutional investor flows
(Additional reporting by Anurag Kotoky in NEW DELHI; Editing by
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