Indian shares end lower on financials drag, profit taking

BENGALURU, June 23 (Reuters) - Indian shares closed lower after choppy trading on Wednesday, with heavyweight financial firms dropping the most, as investors booked profits and adjusted their equity positions ahead of the expiry of monthly contracts for June.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index closed 0.54% lower at 15,686.95, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.54% to end at 52,306.08.

Both indexes have scaled all-time highs this month, driven by a decline in COVID-19 cases, the easing of pandemic-induced restrictions in states, and a record surge in vaccinations. The Nifty reached within 100 points of the 16,000 mark last week.

However, Tuesday and Wednesday’s sessions recorded a pullback as investors locked in gains ahead of Thursday’s expiry for the monthly contracts of June.

In Mumbai trading, conglomerate Reliance Industries was the top drag on the Nifty 50, falling 0.9% ahead of its annual general meeting on Thursday.

The Nifty Bank Index fell 0.49%, posting its fifth session of losses in six. Private-sector lender ICICI Bank lost 1% and was among the top drags on the Nifty 50.

The Nifty Auto Index was among the few indexes that closed higher, gaining 0.46% and clocking its second straight session of gains, a day after a Jefferies research note said that India’s auto demand was recovering again.

Maruti Suzuki rose 2.3% and was the top boost to the Nifty 50, while India’s largest motorcycle maker, Hero MotoCorp, added as much as 3% after it said it would increase the prices of its motorcycles and scooters from July 1.

In other stocks, state-owned defence electronics firm Bharat Electronics closed 11.3% higher after posting higher March-quarter profit and revenue.

Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath