Indian shares inch lower as focus shifts back to surging virus cases

BENGALURU, July 22 (Reuters) - Indian shares edged lower on Wednesday after five straight sessions of gains, as a mixed bag of earnings after a string of strong results last week shifted investor focus back to surging domestic coronavirus cases that neared 1.2 million.

The NSE Nifty 50 index fell 0.12% to 11,147.20 by 0400 GMT and the S&P BSE Sensex declined 0.17% at 37,665.40.

The world's second-most populous nation saw its virus cases rise to nearly 1.2 million by Wednesday morning, according to government data, which has alarmed investors as the outbreak hit production in many sectors and squeezed demand.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday sought to assuage concerns around an economic slump stemming from the pandemic and said the government has “kept all options open” to help industries hit by the virus.

The Nifty state-owned banking index fell 0.8% was the top loser among sectors, followed by the Nifty auto index, which shed 0.7%.

Hindustan Unilever was among the top laggards for the day, shedding 2.1%, after the consumer goods giant reported a first-quarter profit that missed expectations.

Axis bank rose 7.13% and topped the Nifty gainers on Wednesday after the lender reported better asset quality for the quarter to June and a fall in bad-loan provisioning. (Reporting by Derek Francis in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)