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

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