Indian shares end tad lower in choppy session as liquidity dries up

FILE PHOTO: People watch a large screen displaying India's benchmark share index on the facade of the Bombay Stock Exchange building in Mumbai

BENGALURU (Reuters) -Indian shares closed marginally lower on Wednesday, after flitting between gains and losses in the session in the absence of major triggers, and with liquidity drying up ahead of the year-end.

The Nifty 50 index closed 0.05% lower to 18,122.50 and the S&P BSE Sensex down 0.03% to 60,910.28.

Average trading volume since Dec. 15 was about 200 billion, compared to 230 billion in the first half of December, according to Refinitiv data.

The impact of volatility will be felt more in the next few sessions as foreign investor activity dries up with the year coming to a close, analysts said.

Foreign institutional investors had sold a net of 43.2 billion rupees since Dec. 16, as per National Stock Exchange data.

Auto rose 0.66%, offsetting the decline in most of the major sectoral indexes.

The mood on the ground is positive for auto companies, while export-linked sectors like IT and pharma could be under pressure due to economic growth concerns in the United States and Europe, said Avinash Gorakshakar, head of research at Profitmart Securities.

Indian passenger vehicle retail volumes will likely grow at 9%-11% year-on-year in December on order backlog and discounts while commercial vehicles could see 12%-14% growth on demand recovery, according to domestic brokerage firm Motilal Oswal.

The MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was also largely unchanged, after Wall street equities fell overnight. [MKTS/GLOB]

The losses in domestic equities were capped by oil prices, which fell on worries of rising COVID-19 cases in China, after hovering around a three-week high earlier in the day. [O/R]

Lower oil prices aid oil-importing countries like India, where crude constitutes the bulk of the country's import bill.

Thirty-one of the Nifty 50 stocks logged losses, with Bharti Airtel, Apollo Hospitals, Hindalco, Axis Bank losing over 1%.

($1 = 82.8300 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Bharath Rajeswaran in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Janane Venkatraman and Eileen Soreng)