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Indian shares ended flat on Friday as gains in metal and auto stocks helped offset a fall in IT and pharma, while the rupee hit an 18-month low against the dollar ahead of U.S. inflation data that is expected to boost the greenback.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index ended 0.03% down at 17,511.30 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.03% to 58,786.67. For the week, the Nifty has risen 1.8%, while the Sensex has gained 1.9%.

The rupee ended the session at 75.77 per dollar after weakening to 75.85, its lowest since June 2020.

The U.S. consumer price index (CPI) report for November is due later in the day and a Reuters poll of economists expects it to have risen 6.8% year-on-year, accelerating from a 6.2% increase in October.

“There are expectations tonight’s U.S. CPI data will come higher than expected, acting as a catalyst to the dollar rally and making it a big fiscal and monetary concern,” Emkay Global Financial Services said in a note.

The Nifty metal index ended 0.52% higher, led by gains in Hindustan Copper and APL Apollo Tubes, up 5.7% and 4.6% respectively.

The Nifty Auto index rose marginally to 0.19%.

Most banking stocks pared the day’s losses to end the session up, led by IDFC First Bank and Punjab National Bank, up 5.3% and 3.2%. The Nifty Bank index rose 0.06%.

The Nifty IT index ended 0.02% lower after falling as much as 0.82% earlier.

“Domestic equities gave positive returns this week amid easing concerns pertaining to potential severity of the Omicron coronavirus variant,” Kotak Securities Head of Equity Research (Retail) Shrikant Chouhan said.

Markets will “keenly watch” for actions on asset tapering and key policy rates in the upcoming U.S. Federal Reserve meet, Chouhan added.

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India today

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