(Updates closing levels)

By Sethuraman N R and Bharath Rajeswaran

BENGALURU, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Indian shares ended lower for the third day in a row on Tuesday, having spent the session in a narrower-than-usual trading range on caution ahead of the minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s meeting amid fears of a higher-for-longer interest rate regime.

The Nifty 50 index fell 0.10% down at 17,826.70, while the S&P BSE Sensex dipped 0.03% to 60,672.72. Both benchmarks opened higher before reversing course.

The Nifty traded in a 124-points range, well below this month’s daily average of around 195 points.

The minutes of the Fed’s latest policy meeting are due on Wednesday and come as recent U.S. data – on inflation, retail sales and jobs — have strengthened the case for further rate hikes, a view that two Fed officials recently advocated for.

“With the kind of domestic, as well as global economic data coming in, we might see a selling in growth stocks and buying in value stocks,” said Saurabh Jain, assistant vice-president, research, SMC Global Securities.

Ten of the 13 sectoral indexes declined. The U.S. rates-sensitive IT stocks fell 0.88%, with nine of the 10 constituents in the red. Financials were little changed.

Jain said IT stocks, up 8.7% so far this year, were likely to be losing steam, with investors moving into financial shares.

The fast moving consumer goods index bucked the broader trend to add 0.11%. Marico was the top gainer, rising over 2% after Citi said it expects volume growth of core brands to accelerate.

Siemens rose over 3% and hit a record high, after Jefferies called it its top pick among industrial stocks.

On the flip side, UFlex dropped nearly 2% on reports that the country’s income tax department was searching the flexible packaging products manufacturer’s office.

Multiple media reports suggested the equity market trade timing is likely to be extended to 5 p.m. IST, from 3:30 p.m. The Securities and Exchange Board of India is yet to comment. (Reporting by Bharath Rajeswaran and Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil, Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Savio D’Souza)


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