Sensex falls 654 points on Middle East tension

The benchmark Sensex on Thursday plummeted over 654 points in its biggest drop in nearly three months to end at 27,457.58 on across the board selling as geo-political issues in the Middle East region triggered capital outflow concerns.

Participants were also jittery as Thursday saw expiry of monthly derivative contracts, brokers said, adding that global sentiment was weak after US equities fell overnight reacting to a surprise fall in durable goods orders for February.

Crude oil surged by almost 6 per cent on supply concerns after Saudi Arabia carried out air strikes against Huthi rebels in Yemen on Thursday.

In the local currency market, the Indian rupee weakened by another 32 paise to 62.65 (intra-day) against the dollar.

The Bombay Stock Exchange 30-share Sensex remained in the negative zone through out the session as selling pressure gathered momentum.

The Sensex ended 654.25 points, or 2.33 per cent down, at 27,457.58, its weakest closing since January 14.

The index has now lost 1,278.80 points in seven straight sessions.

The index’s drop on Thursday was its steepest since 854.85-point fall on January 6.

The F&O expiry and potential geo-political issues in the Middle East, likely to have impacted markets, said Dipen Shah, Head of Private Client Group Research, Kotak Securities.

Market heavyweights like HDFC plunged 5.32 per cent, Wipro fell 4.01 per cent, Sesa Sterlite tumbled 3.90 per cent, Infosys declined 3.30 per cent and SBI lost 3.18 per cent.

Other prominent losers were Coal India, HDFC Bank, Hind Unilever, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, Tata Motors, Sun Pharma, ONGC, Hindalco, TCS, NTPC, Tata Steel, Dr Reddy’s and RIL.

On the other hand, Bharti Airtel, GAIL, L&T and Hero MotoCorp ended higher.

The 50-share National Stock Exchange index Nifty tumbled below the crucial 8,400-mark by losing 188.65 points, or 2.21 per cent, at 8,342.15 after shuttling between 8,499.45 and 8,325.35.

Sectorwise, the BSE IT index suffered the most by losing 2.63 per cent, followed by Banking (2.52 per cent), Metal (2.24 per cent), Oil & Gas (1.99 per cent), Healthcare (1.90 per cent), FMCG (1.42 per cent), Auto (1.50 per cent), Realty (1.48 per cent), Power (0.78 per cent) and Consumer Durables (0.85 per cent).

Selling pressure also dragged down the BSE Smallcap index by 1 per cent and Midcap index by 0.84 percent.

Foreign Portfolio Investors bought shares worth net Rs 813.19 crore on Wednesday as per provisional data.  

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