Indian shares end lower; global growth concerns, weak earnings weigh

A bird flies past the Bombay Stock Exchange building in Mumbai

BENGALURU (Reuters) -Indian shares fell on Friday as traders parsed through key corporate earnings amidst concerns of a global economic slowdown, but held on to weekly gains on a rise in financial stocks.

The Nifty 50 index closed 0.44% lower at 18,027.65, while the S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.39% to 60,621.77.

"Hawkish comments from global central bank officials and macro economic data from the U.S. have exacerbated growth worries," said Avinash Gorakshakar, head of research at Profitmart Securities, adding that the volatility in Indian markets was also due to "lacklustre" earnings in sectors other than financials.

Strong jobs data from the U.S. and hawkish comments from European Central Bank's president Christine Lagarde on Thursday had dampened sentiment and triggered fears of rate hikes, dragging global equities.

The India volatility index fell over the last two sessions, but has hovered around the 14 mark for over a month.

Thirty six of the Nifty 50 constituents declined on Friday, with Hindustan Unilever, Asian Paints, Bajaj Finance, Nestle India and JSW Steel among the top losers.

Hindustan Unilever fell nearly 4% after the company said it would pay higher royalty fees to parent Unilever. Its net profit beat estimates in the third quarter, post market hours on Thursday.

The stock, which has the second-highest weightage among fast-moving consumer goods' firms, dragged the FMCG index nearly 1%.

Reliance Industries, India's top firm by market capitalisation and the stock with the highest weightage in Nifty 50, fell over 1% ahead of its earnings due post market hours on Friday. RELI is expected to report a decline in profit in the December quarter.

Financials closed 0.17% higher and capped losses in the market, ahead of key earnings from private lenders ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank due on Saturday.

The expectations of strong third-quarter performance from the private lenders buoyed financial stocks, three analysts said.

An uptick in oil prices also added to the losses as high oil prices imply pressure on import bill of oil-importing countries like India. [O/R]

($1 = 81.4400 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Bharath Rajeswaran in Bengaluru; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee)