January 16, 2018 / 6:30 AM / a year ago

Indian shares little changed; oil refiners down

* NSE index down 0.10 pct, BSE index 0.01 pct lower

* Dec trade deficit weighs on sentiment

* Oil marketers fall on higher oil prices

By Jessica Kuruthukulangara

Jan 16 (Reuters) - Indian shares were nearly unchanged on Tuesday as gains in IT stocks were offset by losses in oil refiners such as Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd, with sentiment dampened after data showed the country’s trade deficit widened in December.

India’s December trade deficit touched its highest in over three years, as higher import bills for gold and crude oil weighed.

The wider deficit is a bit of a concern, said Anupam Singhi, Chief Executive at MarketSmith India, part of William O’Neil India. With markets hovering near record highs, volatility is set to increase ahead of the federal budget next month, he said.

The broader NSE index was down 0.10 percent at 10,730.95 as of 0605 GMT, while the benchmark BSE index was 0.01 percent lower at 34,839.36.

Oil refiners fell as global oil prices rose to near three-year highs due to production curbs in OPEC nations and Russia and robust demand from healthy global economic growth.

Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd and Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd slipped more than 2 percent, while Indian Oil Corp Ltd was down 1.7 percent. The Nifty energy index slid as much as 1.6 percent.

“Higher crude prices impact the profitability of oil refiners, hence they are a bit under pressure,” Singhi said.

Shares of IT services firms such as Infosys Ltd, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd and Wipro Ltd rose after Morgan Stanley said it expected a turnaround for these stocks in 2018.

The Nifty IT index jumped over 3 percent, gaining after two consecutive sessions of losses.

Federal Bank Ltd slid as much as 6.9 percent after posting a lower-than-expected third-quarter net profit and as bad loans rose. (Reporting by Jessica Kuruthukulangara in Bengaluru; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)

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