Sensex, Nifty slip as coronavirus cases jump; consumer stocks slideSensex, Nifty slip as coronavirus cases jump; consumer stocks slide
A man wearing a protective mask walks past the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai

By Sachin Ravikumar

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Consumer stocks led a decline in Indian shares on Thursday, as coronavirus cases in the country crossed 50,000 in a steady rise despite a weeks-long lockdown that has sapped economic growth.

The Nifty was down 0.60% at 9,215.30 by 0545 GMT, while the Sensex fell 0.57% to 31,504.40.

India, which has been under the world’s biggest lockdown since late March, said on Thursday coronavirus infections reached 52,952, while the death toll was at 1,783.

The lockdown has put pressure on an already slowing economy, as it shut factories and businesses, many of which reported zero revenues in April, and left millions of Indians without an income.

The Nifty FMCG index, which tracks consumer goods producers, fell 1.4%, with most stocks in the index trading lower.

Consumer products giant Hindustan Unilever fell 4.3% after GlaxoSmithKline began selling $3.45 billion worth of the company’s shares in the open market.

Analysts said the stock was pressured because of the sale due to an increase in Hindustan Unilever’s free float but added the stock could likely rise in the coming days as the additional shares are purchased.

Banking stocks, which have see-sawed in the past few sessions, also contributed to the decline in the Nifty 50. Kotak Mahindra Bank was the top drag on the Nifty 50 with a 4% slide, while the Nifty banking index was down 1.1%.

“Currently there are lot of apprehensions about NPAs (non-performing assets or bad loans) and that credit growth will be very slow,” said Deepak Jasani, head of research for retail at HDFC Securities in Mumbai.

In a bright spot for the sector, Yes Bank’s shares jumped 9% after the troubled lender reported a surprise profit for the March quarter.

Meanwhile, India’s small-cap and mid-cap shares made modest gains.

Stocks across other Asian markets pared losses after data showed a surprise rise in Chinese exports, stoking speculation China could recover from its coronavirus lockdown quicker than first thought, supporting global growth.

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Aditya Soni)