Indian shares dip on U.S. inflation worries; domestic COVID-19 deaths surge

BENGALURU, May 12 (Reuters) - Indian shares were weighed down by financials on Wednesday as Asian peers slumped on concerns over a potential pickup in U.S. inflation, while domestic COVID-19 deaths crossed the quarter-million mark with no signs of infections peaking.

The NSE Nifty 50 index fell 0.9% to 14,717.8 by 0458 GMT, while the S&P BSE Sensex dropped 0.93% to 48,705.87.

Speculation that surging commodity prices and growing inflationary pressure in the United States could lead to earlier rate hikes and higher bond yields globally sent Asian shares to two-month lows, although U.S. Federal Reserve officials reiterated a firmly dovish policy stance.

In India, the central bank is seen maintaining status quo on interest rates as data expected later in the day is likely to show retail inflation eased to a three-month low in April. However, investors are concerned about potential outflows of foreign funds.

“Any potential hike in U.S. interest rates because of inflation would be an area of concern for India as foreign funds, which were supporting a rally in recent months, could move back to an extent,” said Anita Gandhi, director at Arihant Capital Markets.

Adding to investor concerns, India reported a record surge in coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, pushing its overall death toll over a quarter million.

Moody’s Investors Service warned on Tuesday that the second severe wave of coronavirus infections would slow near-term economic recovery, slashing its real GDP growth forecast to 9.3% from 13.7% for the fiscal year ending March 2022.

The Nifty Financial Services index slid 1.2%, with top non-bank lender HDFC Ltd dropping 2.3%. The Nifty IT index slipped 1.1%.

Investors are also awaiting April auto sales data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

Shares of Godrej Consumer Products soared nearly 25% while Siemens Ltd climbed 10% following strong quarterly results.

Nifty components Asian Paints and UPL will report their results later in the day. (Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)