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Reliance props up India shares in global sell-off

BENGALURU, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Indian shares tracked a global stock markets selloff to close lower on Wednesday, although news of a $1 billion investment in Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries helped it outperform most Asian markets.

The suspension of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine trials also helped drive broad selling across Asia and sent shares in the UK drugmaker’s Indian-listed arm down 4%.

A 2.6% gain in Reliance, however, kept losses in check and the blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index closed just 0.35% lower at 11,278.00. The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex ended 0.45% lower at 38,193.92, compared with losses of more than 1% elsewhere in the broader region.

Reliance, which has drawn in billions in investment in recent months as it uses its scale and financial muscle to take advantage of rivals’ coronavirus-driven difficulties, announced a $1 billion investment from private equity firm Silver Lake for its retail business on Wednesday.

The conglomerate’s gain helped the Nifty energy index close 0.19% higher.

India’s Serum Institute, one of the world’s biggest contract drugmakers and which is conducting Indian trials of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, said its local testing was continuing without any issues.

The Nifty’s pharma index ended up 1.9%.

Rusmik Oza, head of fundamental research at Kotak Securities, was still upbeat about the overall market.

“A mild correction in the market is good ... economic indicators at home have been mostly negative,” he added.

The Nifty bank index closed down 2.1%. India’s top court is set to continue hearing a case on waiving interest rates on loans under a moratorium tomorrow. (Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)

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