Indian shares snapped a three-day rally on Friday as surging cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant globally weighed on investor sentiment despite signs that it was less likely to lead to hospitalisation.
The NSE Nifty 50 index closed 0.4% lower at 17,003.75 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.33% to 57,124.31.
But the indexes eked out slim gains for the week as metal and IT stocks helped the market recover from Monday's 3% plunge.
Omicron continued its advance across the world, with health experts warning the battle against the strain was far from over despite two drugmakers saying their vaccines protected against it and encouraging signs on hospitalisation rates from Britain and South Africa.
"Domestic markets will continue to keep track of the Omicron variant spread," said Shrikant Chouhan, head of equity research (retail), Kotak Securities.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday asked chiefs of states to ramp up oxygen supplies and strengthen health infrastructure to contain a possible surge in cases ahead of the festive season.
"With market volatility, defensive sectors (like IT) saw interest from the market participants," Chouhan said.
The information technology (IT) index was the lone sectoral gainer on Friday, rising 1%. It added 3% for the week to record its fourth straight weekly gain.
The deal pipeline for IT services companies continues to be strong, which is reflected in investor confidence in those companies, said Ajit Mishra, vice president research, Religare Broking Ltd.
Shares of defence solutions provider Data Patterns (India) made a strong market debut, ending up 29%.