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India's Nifty 50 drops most in a month as automakers slide

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

By Chris Thomas

BENGALURU (Reuters) -India's blue-chip Nifty 50 index fell the most in a month on Tuesday as investors dumped high-flying automakers, IT firms and metal producers in a rout triggered by worries over faster tightening of monetary policy globally.

The NSE Nifty 50 index slid 1.07% to 18,113.05 and the S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.9% to 60,754.86 after touching near three-month highs earlier in the session.

Asian shares also declined as two-year U.S. Treasury yields topped 1% for the first time in almost two years on growing signs that March will be the start of a policy tightening cycle.[MKTS/GLOB]

"The expectation is of a strong rebound in economic activity and underlying earnings (in India), but at the same time there are concerns around input cost increases, wage costs and interest rates," said Rajeev Thakkar, chief investment officer at PPFAS Mutual Fund.

"People have looked beyond COVID-19 worries, but they are coming to terms with the quicker pace of rate increases, which has put the brakes on a runaway rally."

Rate hikes are generally seen as negative for riskier assets like equities.

The Nifty and Sensex have made a strong start to 2022, rising more than 10% from the lows hit in December as auto and energy stocks gained despite a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The indexes are just around 2.5% shy of record highs touched in October, with corporate earnings and the federal budget due next month expected to provide further impetus.

On Tuesday, auto stocks dipped 2.4% after posting strong gains in the previous session. Heavyweight IT stocks slid 1.8%, while metal stocks dropped 2.3%.

The Nifty Bank index was among the sub-indexes that fell the least, closing 0.02% lower.

Nifty 50 component Bajaj Finance fell 1.4% ahead of its third-quarter results.

Investors will also be closely watching a press conference by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman due at 1100 GMT.

(Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; editing by Aditya Soni)