Indian shares held back by metal stocks

BENGALURU, May 20 (Reuters) - Indian shares were largely unchanged on Thursday as gains in some financial and IT stocks countered a sell-off in metals fuelled by China’s decision to stabilise commodity markets.

Both the NSE Nifty 50 index and the S&P BSE Sensex traded in a narrow range as investor risk appetite declined globally over inflationary worries.

By 0445 GMT, the Nifty 50 was down 0.03% at 15,017.65 and the Sensex was 0.09% higher at 49,953.50, weighed down by a near 3% drop in metal stocks - the most among sectoral indexes.

China, the world’s biggest metal user, said on Wednesday it would strengthen its management of commodity supply and demand to curb “unreasonable” increases in prices.

Metal stocks in India had seen meaty gains in April and early May as commodity prices soared. The sub-index is still up about 5% this month after a near 22% surge in April.

“We are replicating trends of global stock markets,” said Ajit Mishra, vice president, research, at Religare Broking.

“We might be cautious today but overall, the trend remains positive and markets will keep a close eye on developing things like domestic COVID-19 cases.”

In broader Asia, stocks paused after minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting flagged the possibility of a debate on scaling back asset purchases and diminished risk appetite.

In Mumbai trading, lender ICICI Bank and IT major Infosys held on to gains, adding nearly 1% each.

Shares of Indian fertiliser companies eked out gains after the central government said it would hike subsidies for diammonium phosphate (DAP) fertiliser by 140%.

Meanwhile, India’s new coronavirus infections stayed below the 300,000 mark and deaths backed off from record highs. (Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)