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Indian Shares End Lower as Reliance, Hindalco Drag

BENGALURU, March 31 (Reuters) - Indian shares ended lower in a choppy session on Thursday, dragged by heavyweight conglomerate Reliance Industries and aluminium producer Hindalco, but marked their strongest month since August as oil prices cooled.

The NSE Nifty 50 index slipped from seven-week highs, closing 0.19% lower at 17,464.75, while the S&P BSE Sensex slipped 0.2% to 58,568.51.

Both indexes ended March around 4% stronger as oil prices dropped from 14-year peaks. They are around half a percentage higher for the final quarter of the year, after logging losses in January and February.

In the financial year ending March 31, the blue-chip indexes rose about 19% each. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell more than 12% during the same period.

Oil prices tumbled on Thursday as the United States weighed a massive reserves release to calm soaring crude prices. A surge earlier this month, as countries discussed a Russian oil import ban after it invaded Ukraine, had dragged Indian equities to their lowest since July.

India is the world's third-largest importer and consumer of oil, and higher crude prices tend to push the country's trade and current account deficit higher while also hurting the rupee and fuelling inflation.

On Thursday, India's most valuable company Reliance slid 1.4% after hitting an over five-month high in the previous session.

Hindalco Industries tumbled for a second day, closing 5.1% lower, days after it unveiled a capital expenditure plan.

Shares of Axis Bank ended 1.4% higher after the lender announced a $1.6 billion acquisition of Citi's local retail business to bulk up its credit card and retail presence. 

Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Gaurav Dogra; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Krishna Chandra Eluri

Source: Reuters

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