Indian blue-chips slip on Mideast conflict concerns; metals cap losses

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past the new logo of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai

By Bharath Rajeswaran

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian shares closed marginally lower on Monday, tracking weaker global stocks as nervousness around the escalating conflict in the Middle East dampened risk appetite, while a rise in metals stocks capped losses.

The NSE Nifty 50 index settled 0.10% lower at 19,731.75, and the S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.17% to 66,166.93.

Eight of the 13 major sectoral indexes fell, with financials and banks down 0.06% and 0.14% respectively. India's top private lender HDFC Bank closed 0.40% lower ahead of its results.

Metals gained nearly 1%, after data showed recovery in exports and imports in world's top consumer China. JSW Steel, Tata Steel were among the top Nifty 50 gainers.

Meanwhile, the more domestically focussed small- and mid-caps outperformed the blue-chips, rising 0.37% and 0.21% respectively, helped by sustained retail inflows.

"While valuations in small- and mid-caps are stretched, their domestic focus lends them an advantage over large-caps," said Narendra Solanki, head of fundamental research - investment services at Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Brokers.

Most global stocks fell as cautious markets watched for signs of escalation which could determine the financial fallout from the Israel-Hamas war. [MKTS/GLOB]

Brent oil futures steadied above $90 a barrel on Monday after passing the threshold on Friday. Higher oil prices are a negative for net importers of the commodity, like India. [O/R]

"The conflict in the Middle East has kept investors on tenterhooks," Solanki noted, and advised long-term investors to "utilise short-term corrections to hike allocations into domestically-oriented companies."

Among individual stocks, DMart operator Avenue Supermarts lost 1.8% after reporting a drop in September quarter profit.

Nestle, which hit a record high on Friday on a target price hike by Citi, witnessed a pullback, shedding 1.89% and was among the top Nifty 50 losers.

Newly-listed Jio Financial Services rose 0.30% ahead of its first quarterly results since debuting in August.

(This story has been refiled to correct the ticker symbol in paragraph 4)

(Reporting by Bharath Rajeswaran in Bengaluru; Editing by Varun H K)