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Indian shares fall as financials drag, inflation hits three-month high

BENGALURU, March 15 (Reuters) - Indian shares fell on Monday, dragged down by heavyweight financial stocks, after data showed that the country’s retail inflation jumped to a three-month high in February, while a fresh surge in COVID-19 cases also weighed on sentiment.

The blue chip NSE Nifty 50 index fell 0.77% to 14,914.50 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.77% to 50,401.72 by 0352 GMT.

Government data on Friday showed India’s annual retail inflation rose 5.03% in February on higher fuel prices, above the 4.83% forecast in a Reuters’ poll, though remaining within the central bank’s targeted range.

Also, India on Sunday reported this year’s biggest daily rise in COVID-19 cases. The country is the third-worst affected globally with 11.36 million cases, behind the United States and Brazil.

Shares of Yes Bank Ltd fell 1.9%. The Reserve Bank of India has rejected the lender's application to set up an asset reconstruction company for bad loans, the Mint newspaper reported bit.ly/3tkAHLi.

The Nifty Bank Index, which rose 0.76% last week, shed 1.50%. HDFC Bank Ltd was the top drag on Nifty 50, falling 1.3%.

Broader global markets were trading higher, as investors bet on a faster economic recovery after the signing of a $1.9 trillion U.S. stimulus bill into law last week.

Reuters also reported on Monday that India would propose a law banning cryptocurrencies, citing a senior government official.

Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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