Indian shares reversed course to trade lower on Friday as losses in pharma stocks overshadowed gains in energy and banking names, while concerns around the detection of two cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the country further weighed on sentiment.
The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index slipped 0.19% to 17,368.65 by 0507 GMT and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.23% to 58,326.74. Both indexes were however on course for their best week in seven.
"After a few days of rally, there is some negativity in the market as the Omicron variant is sending some fears," said AK Prabhakar, head of research at IDBI Capital, adding the breadth of the market remained positive.
Among major sub-indexes, the Nifty Pharma index fell the most, down as much as 0.94%, weighed down by losses in Dr Reddy's Laboratories and Cipla Ltd.
Financials bucked the trend, with the Nifty Bank index and the Nifty PSU index climbing 0.92% and 1.34%, respectively.
Energy and auto stocks were also trading in positive territory. Indian Oil Corp rose as much as 1.8% and Bharat Petroleum Corp climbed 2.5%, both hitting one-week highs.
Larsen & Toubro Ltd was among the top gainers on the Nifty50, rising as much as 3.11%, after the engineering conglomerate said on Thursday it would jointly own and operate green hydrogen projects with Goldman Sachs-backed green energy producer ReNew Power.
Global stocks fell due to a cocktail of factors, including Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi's delisting in New York and renewing concerns about U.S.-China relation.