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Metals, IT drag India's Nifty lower as COVID-19 cases cross 24 million

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A man walks past the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai
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By Chris Thomas

BENGALURU (Reuters) - India's benchmark Nifty 50 stock index ended lower in a volatile session on Friday, as domestic coronavirus infections climbed past 24 million, with losses in heavyweight IT and metal shares eclipsing sharp gains in Asian Paints and consumer goods majors.

The NSE Nifty 50 index slipped 0.13% to 14,677.8, while the S&P BSE Sensex was 0.09% higher at 48,732.55. Both indexes finished the holiday-shortened week 1% lower after losses earlier in the week on U.S. inflation worries.

"There is still concern in the market around how the second (coronavirus) wave will play out," said Saurabh Jain, assistant vice president research, SMC Global Securities.

"The part of the market that was doing well was sectors that were benefiting from the pandemic, and we are seeing some profits being booked there too."

Indian health ministry data showed 4,000 deaths and 343,144 infections over the last 24 hours, and although the government threw open inoculations for all adults from May 1, vaccinations have slowed down.

"Lacklustre progress with the vaccination rollout means that the threat of further outbreaks still hangs over the economic outlook," Darren Aw, Asia economist at Capital Economics, said in a note.

The Nifty Metal index dropped 3.8% as metal prices slid after a record-setting rally, while IT firms Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys fell 1.2% and 0.8%, respectively. [IRONORE/]

The Nifty Bank index clocked a weekly loss of more than 2%.

The Nifty Pharma index gave up early gains to settle 1.3% lower, but still registered its eighth week of gains.

The Nifty FMCG index was the only subindex to end in the black, gaining 2.1% on the back of a 4.4% jump in consumer goods giant ITC.

Asian Paints soared 8.5% after reporting a jump in quarterly profit and was the top boost to the Nifty.

Agrochemical maker UPL surged 7.5% to a near 26-year high after solid quarterly results and upbeat forecast.

(Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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