October 10, 2019 / 10:48 AM / 8 days ago

Indian stocks end lower as banks slump; earnings in focus

* Indiabulls shares dive 18.5%

* Banks lead decline; NSE bank index drops 2.68%

* Telecom stocks gain after Jio’s move to charge customers

BENGALURU, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Indian markets closed lower on Thursday, led by a sharp drop in banking shares, while investors awaited a raft of second-quarter corporate earnings including that of Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) due later in the day.

Software services firm TCS, the second-largest Indian company by market value, is scheduled to report its September-quarter results later in the day, while its industry peer Infosys Ltd will announce results on Friday.

The broader NSE index ended 0.70% lower at 11,234.55, while the benchmark BSE index closed down 0.78% at 37,880.

All stocks in the Nifty bank index ended in the red, and the index closed 2.68% lower.

Shares in Indiabulls Housing Finance Ltd dived 18.5% after hitting a near six-year low as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) blocked its proposed merger with Lakshmi Vilas Bank .

The central bank’s move represented the latest in a series of negative headlines for India’s banking industry, that is struggling with a mountain of bad debt.

India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday the government would consider passing stricter laws to curb malpractices at co-operative banks.

The finance minister’s announcement came in weeks after allegations of fraud at Mumbai-based Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank rocked India’s banking industry, denting investor confidence in an already troubled sector.

Meanwhile, telecom stocks gained after Reliance Jio announced plans to charge customers for calls made through its network to other operators, a move analysts said could lead to higher industry prices and revenues.

Jio’s rivals Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd ended up 5% and 6%, respectively. Shares in Grasim Industries Ltd, the top shareholder in Vodafone Idea, closed 3.9% firmer. (Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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