Sensex, Nifty slip before GDP data; auto stocks shine

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A broker reacts while trading at his computer terminal at a stock brokerage firm in Mumbai

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian shares ended slightly lower on Friday, ahead of the release of data that is likely to show Asia's third-largest economy entered a recession in the September quarter in a coronavirus-driven slump.

A dip in IT services shares was countered by a 1.4% rise in automotive stocks before the release of monthly vehicle sales figures from Tuesday. Indian markets are shut on Monday for a local holiday.

The NSE Nifty 50 index closed 0.14% lower at 12,968.95, while the S&P BSE Sensex ended 0.25% lower at 44,149.72.

Both indexes finished the month roughly 11.5% higher — their second best monthly performance this year, after a 14.7% gain in April — powered by record inflows from foreign institutional investors and progress on COVID-19 vaccines.

India's economic activity likely picked up in July-September after a record 23.9% contraction the previous quarter, data due around 1200 GMT is expected to show.

Economists in a Reuters poll forecast gross domestic product (GDP) to shrink 8.8%, a contraction that would still amount to a technical recession.

Among companies, IT services firms Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services fell more than 1% each and were among the top drags on the Nifty 50.

Other Asian shares hovered near record highs as investors weighed renewed doubts about AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine against hopes that some of the region's economies will recover quicker than their Western peers.

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)