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Indian Shares Fall After S&P Rating Action

Indian shares fell modestly on Wednesday, with benchmark indexes Sensex and the Nifty falling less than half a percent each, after Standard and Poor's downgraded India's long-term rating outlook to "negative" from "stable" citing the worsening fiscal situation and political constraints for pursuing economic reforms.

There is no need to panic and the government is committed to economic reforms to control fiscal deficit and achieve higher economic growth, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said, helping stocks recover some of their early losses.

The benchmark 30-share Sensex hit an intra-day low of 17,019 before recouping its loss and ending down 56 points or 0.33 percent at 17,151, while the broader Nifty index slipped 21 points or 0.4 percent to 5,202.

Wipro led the decliners with a 7.3 percent loss after it reported a 7.7 percent rise in fourth-quarter consolidated net profit and forecast muted revenue growth. Rival TCS fell 1.9 percent, state-run firms like BHEL and Gail India lost 2-3 percent, miner Coal India declined 1.8 percent and private sector lender ICICI Bank shed a percent.

Copper producer Sterlite Industries rose 1.9 percent before announcing its quarterly results after the market close. Telecom Bharti Airtel gained 2.3 percent after recent steep losses, automakers such as Maruti Suzuki and Hero MotoCorp rose 1-2 percent and HDFC Bank added a percent.

On the global front, other Asian markets turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday, as political concerns regarding France and the Netherlands tempered gains following a slew of strong U.S. corporate results, including Apple's forecast-beating second-quarter earnings.

While a positive performance on Wall Street overnight and successful bond auctions in the euro-zone helped stocks turn upward early in the session, signs that the Dutch crisis is getting worse capped gains.

European stocks extended gains for a second consecutive session, with banks and tech shares leading the gainers, as forecast-beating corporate earnings and optimism ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement soothed lingering concerns about Europe's debt crisis.

Meanwhile, the U.K. economy unexpectedly shrank in the first quarter, entering a double-dip recession for the first time since 1970s, the Office for National Statistics said in a preliminary estimate published today.

by RTT Staff Writer

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