March 22, 2019 / 7:08 AM / 4 months ago

Indian shares edge lower as investors pocket gains

* Both NSE, BSE indexes down 0.28

* Energy, financial stocks fall

By Chandini Monnappa

March 22 (Reuters) - Indian shares edged lower on Friday as investors sold to benefit from recent gains, with losses in energy stocks outweighing gains in index heavyweights such as Larsen and Toubro.

“Indian equities have posted one of the sharpest gains recently, and today is a case of the markets taking a breather, especially with it being a holiday-shortened week,” said Sunil Sharma, chief investment officer, Sanctum Wealth Management.

“Markets have discounted a fair amount of positives in the short term, and any further rally is likely to be driven by fundamentals and positive news flows.”

Indian markets witnessed a pre-election rally in the last few sessions, fuelled by optimism that the current coalition government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi would return to power.

The broader NSE index fell 0.28 percent to 11,488.75 as of 0634 GMT. The benchmark BSE index too lost 0.28 percent to 38,274.03.

The NSE index has risen 6.75 percent while the BSE index climbed 7.02 percent this month until Wednesday’s close. India’s financial markets were shut on Thursday for a public holiday.

Both indexes were poised to register a fifth week of gains.

Shares of Larsen & Toubro Ltd rose as much 3.2 percent, their highest since Jan. 3, while NTPC Ltd added as much as 3.3 percent.

Shares of low-cost carrier SpiceJet Ltd jumped as much as 14.2 percent on upbeat February passenger data.

Energy stocks traded lower, with the Nifty Energy index losing as much as 0.8 percent. Oil prices on Friday hovered close to 2019 peaks reached the previous day, propped up by supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and by U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela.

Coal India Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corp fell as much as 2.9 percent percent and 2.8 percent, respectively. (Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Shreejay Sinha)

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