Indian stocks pared sharp early losses to end slightly lower on Tuesday on fresh hopes of economic stimulus to aid businesses battered by the coronavirus, even as a plunge in heavyweight Reliance Industries weighed on indexes.
The NSE Nifty 50 ended 0.46% lower at 9,196.55, while the S&P BSE Sensex settled down 0.60% at 31,371.12. Both indexes had fallen as much as 2% earlier in the session.
Shares in oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd fell 6.2%, erasing most of their gains this month. The company has set May 14 as the record date for its recently announced rights issue, the country's biggest.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to make a televised speech at 1430 GMT on Tuesday, where he is expected to address the government's measures to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak. He has in the past announced a nationwide lockdown and an extension to it through such speeches.
India has been reporting roughly 2,000 new coronavirus cases daily in past few days, but is expected to further ease a weeks-long lockdown as millions of workers have been left without a source of income. On Tuesday, India's tally of infections crossed 70,000 and deaths neared 2,300.
"Hopes of announcement of a fiscal package in or after the address by the PM today raised hopes among market participants," said Deepak Jasani, head of retail research at HDFC Securities in Mumbai.
India's minister for micro, small and medium enterprises, Nitin Gadkari, said a stimulus package for businesses could be announced in the "next two to three days", the Press Trust of India reported.
On Tuesday, consumer products giant ITC Ltd was the top boost to the Nifty 50, with a 4.2% rise, while telecom firm Bharti Airtel gained 4.4%. Metals and mining group Vedanta Ltd jumped 11.9%.