Nifty, Sensex decline on dour IMF outlook
Photo Credit: Reuters

Indian shares closed slightly lower on Thursday after a volatile session, as investors weighed a downbeat growth outlook from the International Monetary Fund and a surge in COVID-19 cases, while gains in consumer and pharma stocks capped losses.

The IMF on Wednesday evening predicted the Indian economy would contract by 4.5% in 2020. It also expects global output to shrink 4.9% this year, a sharper fall than the 3% contraction predicted in April.

The NSE Nifty 50 index ended down 0.16% to 10,288.90 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex slipped 0.1% to 34,842.10.

The Nifty fast moving consumer goods index rose 2.12%, while the pharma index gained 0.8%.

The FMCG and pharma indexes have gained 4.9% and 1.9% so far this week, respectively, compared with a 0.8% gain in the heavy weight Nifty Bank index.

"Renewed interest in safe-haven sectors like pharma and consumer staples is indicative of the market's wariness about continuance of the mammoth risk-on rally from March lows," said Ajay Bodke, chief executive officer and chief portfolio manager (portfolio management services) at Prabhudas Lilladher in Mumbai.

The Nifty 50 index has surged about 37% after hitting a four-year low in March, as the economy gradually reopened and foreign investors poured money due to massive global liquidity even as coronavirus cases continue to surge across the world.

Domestic coronavirus virus cases surged over 473,000, while some U.S. states reported record increase in new cases on Wednesday and Australia posted its biggest daily rise in infections in two months.

ITC Ltd ended up 5.6% and was the top gainer and boost in the Nifty 50 index.

World stocks spluttered to their lowest level in more than a week on Thursday.

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