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India Shares Inch Higher, Pharma Gains Outweigh Auto Losses

BENGALURU, March 11 (Reuters) - Indian shares edged up on Friday as gains in pharma stocks more than offset losses in the auto sector, while investors await key announcements including the country's inflation data and an expected rate hike by the U.S. Fed next week.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index ended 0.21% higher at 16,630.45, while the S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.15% to 55,550.30 points.

Both the indexes gained more than 2% for the week, logging their first weekly gain in five.

"Equity markets gave positive returns this week even though uncertainties with respect to the Russia-Ukraine conflict continue. Amid sustained high inflation, market will closely monitor announcements at Federal Reserve meet scheduled next week," said Shrikant Chouhan, head of equity research (retail) at Kotak Securities.

Investors await inflation data which is expected on Monday around 1200 GMT. Indian retail inflation is likely to have slipped marginally in February, according to a Reuters poll of economists. 

Data on Thursday showed U.S. inflation accelerated at its fastest rate in four decades, bolstering expectations for more aggressive rate hikes at the Federal Reserve's monetary policy meeting next week.

The Nifty Pharma index gained for a fourth straight session, closing 2.5% higher. The index, however, is down 5.8% for the year.

Nifty 50 components Maruti Suzuki and Mahindra & Mahindra ended 1.5% and 0.6% lower, respectively.

The broader Nifty Auto was down 0.4% after the Indian auto industry body reported sales data for February earlier in the day.

Separately, shares of sugar manufacturers, including Dhampur Sugar Mills, Shree Renuka Sugars and Balrampur Chini Mills rose between 6% and 9%.

Indian sugar mills have signed contracts to increase exports in recent days as surging global prices and a weak rupee have made overseas sales lucrative.

Global stocks rose as investors clung to hopes the global economy would continue to grow despite the war in Ukraine and yet more evidence central banks will need to tighten policy fast to tame inflation.

Reporting by Shivani Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

Source: Reuters

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