Indian shares recover losses; Airtel sees best day since early-Feb

A broker reacts while trading at his computer terminal at a stock brokerage firm in Mumbai, India, August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Indian shares recovered early losses to close flat on Monday, as gains in consumer goods and telecom stocks offset losses in conglomerate Reliance Industries and Kotak Mahindra Bank after their earnings came in below expectations.

The NSE Nifty 50 index was up 0.02% at 14,634.1, while the S&P BSE Sensex slipped 0.13% to 48,718.5.

The indexes had shed more than 1% each in early trading as investors also weighed growing calls to curb economic activity to check a surge in COVID-19 infections.

A leading industry body on Sunday urged authorities to take the “strongest national steps” to save lives, while the Indian Express newspaper reported that the country’s COVID-19 taskforce had advised the federal government to impose a national lockdown.

Elsewhere, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday lost a crucial election in the state of West Bengal.

In Mumbai trading, Bharti Airtel was the top boost to the indexes, ending up 4.1% in its best session since February 1. The S&P BSE telecom index was up 3.5%.

Consumer goods giant Hindustan Unilever (HUL) climbed 2.3%.

The Nifty Metal index was the best performer, rising 2.2%, with Tata Steel closing 3% higher.

Reliance, the country’s largest company by market value, and private-sector lender Kotak Mahindra Bank fell 1.8% and 1.3%, respectively, after their quarterly profit missed estimates.

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