June 25, 2019 / 5:45 AM / 3 months ago

Indian shares struggle in thin trade; Trump, Jinping meeting eyed

* NSE index and BSE index flat

* Bharti Infratel, Zee Entertainment top losers

* Monsoon covers nearly half of country - weather dept

By Krishna V Kurup

June 25 (Reuters) - Indian shares were little changed in lacklustre trade on Tuesday as investors looked for cues from the upcoming meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, while monsoon rains’ progress report failed to push up stocks.

President Trump views this week’s meeting with President Jinping as a chance to see where Beijing stands on the two countries’ trade war, and is “comfortable with any outcome” from the talks, a senior U.S. official said on Monday.

Meanwhile, India and the United States are closing in on an industrial security agreement that will allow the transfer of defence technology, sources told Reuters on Monday, ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s talks in New Delhi this week to promote strategic ties.

This deal comes as disputes over trade and protectionist moves have escalated between the two countries in recent months.

Meanwhile, Indian monsoon rains have covered nearly half of the country and conditions are favourable for further advancement into the central and western parts this week, allaying some concerns that production will be badly hit.

However, the broader NSE index was flat at 11,696.75 as of 0523 GMT, while the benchmark BSE index was largely unchanged at 39,100.32. Only about 98 million shares were traded on the NSE index, compared with the 30-day average of over 385 million shares.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.4%.

“Markets are waiting for cues from important domestic triggers such as upcoming budget, where expectations are high for a pro-growth agenda, but also from some of the global events – crude prices due to tensions in Middle East and G-20 summit,” said Gaurav Arora, Head of Region, Asia Pacific & Middle East at Greenwich Associates in Singapore.

The new Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present her first union budget on July 5, for the fiscal year ending March 2020.

JSW Steel and Vedanta were among the top gainers on the NSE index, up 1.8% and 1.4%, respectively.

Bharti Infratel and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd were among the biggest losers by percentage on the NSE index, down about 2% each.

Among other losers, SBI Life Insurance Co Ltd posted its worst intraday loss since March 29, after promoter BNP Paribas Cardif offered to sell up to 25 million SBI Life shares at a discount. (Reporting by Krishna V Kurup in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Derek Francis; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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