Financial, auto stocks drive Indian shares lower as investors weigh higher oil prices

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Clouds are seen over the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai, India May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

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BENGALURU, March 23 (Reuters) - Financial and automobile stocks drove Indian shares lower on Wednesday as investors weighed higher oil prices in the absence of any major domestic trigger.

The blue chip NSE Nifty 50 index (.NSEI) ended down 0.40% at 17,245.65, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex (.BSESN) fell 0.53% to 57,684.82.

A rally in information technology stocks and Reliance Industries (RELI.NS) had helped both indexes gain more than 1% in the previous session, with the early momentum helping them open higher on Wednesday only to give up the gains and settle lower by mid-day.

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Higher crude prices have kept domestic investors on edge as they make the world's third largest importer and consumer of oil susceptible to high inflation, while also pushing up the country's trade deficit and hurting the rupee.

The partially convertible Indian rupee weakened after opening stronger on Wednesday. read more

State-controlled fuel retailers raised petrol and diesel pump prices for the first time since November, two dealers told Reuters late on Monday, with top retailer Indian Oil Corp (IOC.NS) increasing prices for a second straight day on Tuesday. read more

Indians have also begun to feel the pinch as the Ukraine conflict pushes up the prices of items such as edible oils. read more

In Mumbai trading, the Nifty Financial Services Index (.NIFTYFIN) fell 0.88%, with non-banking financial company HDFC Ltd (HDFC.NS) ending as the top percentage loser on the Nifty 50.

The Nifty Auto Index (.NIFTYAUTO) ended 1.04% lower, with two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp (HROM.NS) falling as much as 4% after income tax department officials visited two of its offices and the residence of the chief executive officer.

The Nifty Metal Index (.NIFTYMET) added 1.21%, with aluminium and copper producer Hindalco Industries (HALC.NS) being the top Nifty 50 percentage gainer.

Global commodity prices remained high on potential supply hits due to the Ukraine crisis.

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Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V

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