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Indian shares slightly lower as surging cases, farm bill worry investors

* NSE index, BSE index down 0.04% each

* IT index up 2%; banking index falls 1.3%

* HCL Technologies hits record high

BENGALURU, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Indian shares were muted on Monday as gains in IT stocks helped offset losses in other sectors, while surging domestic cases of the novel coronavirus and the passage of a contentious farm bill by lawmakers kept investors cautious.

By 0424 GMT, the broader NSE Nifty 50 index and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex were down 0.04% each at 11,500.35 and 38,835.19, respectively.

The country passed three laws last week aimed at allowing farmers to sell their produce directly to food processors and retailers, sparking protests from opposition lawmakers who said the bill would leave farmers at the mercy of large corporations.

“Though the bill will be seen as a positive for markets, there will be uncertainties till it becomes a law,” said Anita Gandhi, a Director at Arihant Capital Markets in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, India's coronavirus cases touched 5.49 million by Monday morning, government data showed www.mohfw.gov.in.

The Nifty IT index rose as much as 2.18% and was the top gainer among sectors.

IT services company HCL Technologies was the top percentage gainer on the Nifty 50, rising as much as 4.85% to a record high, after the company announced plans to buy Australian firm DWS Ltd.

Among other sectors and shares, the Nifty banking index , which tracks both state-owned and private-sector lenders, fell for a third straight session and was down 1.2%. The Nifty auto index fell about 1.1%.

Cloud computing services provider Route Mobile opened for trading at more than double its IPO issue price of 350 rupees per share. The company planned to raise 6 billion rupees ($81.82 million) through an IPO that opened for subscription earlier this month. ($1 = 73.3300 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Derek Francis in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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