European Markets

Indian shares end lower on Omicron uncertainty, Reliance drag

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A woman walks past the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai, India, January 31, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo

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BENGALURU, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Indian shares ended lower on Friday, dragged down by most major sector indexes and heavyweights Reliance and Kotak Mahindra Bank, while concerns around two cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the country further weighed on sentiment.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index (.NSEI)ended 1.18% downat 17,196.70 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex (.BSESN) fell 1.31% to 57,696.46.

Both the indexes, however, saw their first weekly gain in three.

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"The volatility in the markets is mainly because of uncertainty around the new coronavirus variant, and due to pressure from foreign institutional investors selling," said Aishvarya Dadheech, fund manager at Ambit Asset Management.

He added that pronounced selling in large-cap stocks such as those in the technology, banks and telecom sectors had a strong impact on Friday.

Among major sub-indexes, the Nifty Energy index (.NIFTYENR) fell nearly 1%, with Reliance Industries(RELI.NS)falling 3% to lead losses.

The Nifty bank, IT and pharma indexes were among other major losers, falling between 0.83% and 0.86%. Kotak MahindraBank (KTKM.NS)fell 2.5%.

Investors are also looking ahead to the Reserve Bank of India's monetary policy meeting next week.

"RBI's monetary policy meeting will be a key market driver as investors await a policy decision that is broadly expected to hold an accommodative stance considering the uncertainty surrounding the new variant," Vinod Nair, head of research at Geojit Financial Services, said in a note.

Meanwhile, European shares opened firmer on Friday, shrugging off weakness in Asia as markets appeared to be accepting the possibility of more COVID-linked activity curbs and an accelerated pace of stimulus tapering by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

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Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Subhranshu Sahu and Maju Samuel

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