Indian shares end lower as banks drag; Gland Pharma jumps 10% on vaccine deal

BENGALURU, March 16 (Reuters) - Indian shares gave up early gains to close lower on Tuesday, dragged down by losses in financial stocks, while Gland Pharma jumped as much as 10% after it struck a deal to supply up to 252 million Sputnik V vaccine doses.

The NSE Nifty 50 index fell 0.1% to 14,910.45, while the S&P BSE Sensex ended flat at 50,363.96. The Nifty and the Sensex had earlier risen as much as 0.8% and 0.9%, respectively.

Investors in Indian equities have trimmed their positions this month due to a resurgence in domestic COVID-19 infections and rising U.S. bond yields, bringing the monthly gains so far to just about 3% compared with a 6.6% jump in February.

“Rise in COVID-9 cases is weighing on the market and banks are also seeing a bit of pressure. Market is also seeing some selling by the foreign as well as domestic investors for the past few sessions,” said Saurabh Jain, assistant vice president of research at SMC Global Securities in New Delhi.

India reported 24,492 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the sixth straight day of more than 20,000 infections, even as curbs aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 were expanded in parts of the country that have recorded a surge.

The Nifty Bank Index and the public sector bank index were top losers, falling 1.1% and 1.32%, respectively.

Gland Pharma shares rose as much as 10% after it reported it had entered into an agreement with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to produce and supply up to 252 million doses of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.

Tata Communications slid 6.1% after the telecommunication services provider said the government would sell up to a 10% stake in the company. (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)