March 29, 2019 / 6:47 AM / 8 months ago

CORRECTED-Indian shares pause for cues, but head for best month in 3 years

(Corrects headline to say best month in 3 years, not 2)

* NSE index up 0.10 pct, BSE index 0.09 pct higher

* Nifty metal index rises as much as 2.3 pct

* Investor focus shifts to corporate results

By Chandini Monnappa

March 29 (Reuters) - Indian shares traded little changed on Friday in the absence of market-moving news, but were headed for their best month since March 2016 amid strong foreign fund inflows on expectation the current coalition government would return to power.

Foreign investors have bought equities worth a net $4.38 billion this month, the highest since March 2017, after 2018’s net outflows of $4.4 billion.

“Markets have gained momentum, thanks to increased participation from FIIs, we are pricing in the probability of the current government returning (to power),” said Saurabh Jain, AVP Research, SMC global securities.

Investors now await cues from the corporate results season which is set to start from mid-April.

“Markets will make up mind about the earnings position once we see results from IT companies and banks... if it is good news then this momentum would continue,” said Jain.

The broader NSE index was up 0.10 percent at 11,581.75 as of 0525 GMT, while the benchmark BSE index was 0.09 percent higher at 38,582.06.

Both indexes have gained about 7.5 percent this month, and over 1 percent for the week in what would be their sixth straight weekly rise.

For the quarter, the NSE index has gained about 6.6 percent, its biggest in five quarters, while the BSE index has risen 7 percent, its best in three quarters.

The Nifty Metals index rose as much as 2.3 percent, with Steel Authority of India Ltd and NMDC Ltd rising 6 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.

Vedanta Ltd and JSW Steel Ltd were the top gainers on the NSE index, rising as much as 3.9 percent and 3.4 percent respectively.

IndusInd Bank Ltd and GAIL (India) Ltd were among the top losers, falling over 1.5 percent each.

SBI Life Insurance Ltd fell as much as 5.6 percent after a report that BNP Paribas Cardiff was looking to sell its stake in the company. ($1 = 69.0700 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Gaurav Dogra

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