Equity benchmarks crashed for the second straight session on Thursday as a spurt in COVID-19 cases in the country and fears of localised lockdowns triggered an across-the-board selloff. Bearish global cues and expiry of monthly derivative contracts added to the volatility, traders said. The 30-share BSE Sensex slumped 740.19 points or 1.5 1% to close at 48,440.12. The broader NSE Nifty tanked 224.50 points or 1.54% to 14,324.90.
Maruti was the top loser in the Sensex pack, shedding 3.98%, followed by HUL, Bharti Airtel, Bajaj Auto, NTPC, Bajaj Finance and UltraTech Cement. Only four index components managed to close in the green -- Dr Reddy's, ICICI Bank, HDFC and L&T, rising up to 0.74%.
"Increased rate of infection across the country and world is creating more pessimism in the market, which has increased today due to monthly expiry. After the stellar rally, the market was on a consolidation stage during the last one month, which amplified post the sudden rise in infection impacting future economic growth.
"The economic fallout in India from the reduction in world GDP growth is likely to be marginal. A fall in the rate of infection through tougher restrictions and pace in vaccination may quickly stabilise the market," said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.
Binod Modi, Head - Strategy at Reliance Securities, said the market capitalisation of domestic market slipped below Rs 200 trillion for the first time after February 3, 2021, resulting in wealth erosion of over Rs 5 trillion in the last two days.
All sectoral indices ended in the red, with BSE telecom, power, auto, energy, utilities and realty indices declining as much as 3.14%.
Broader BSE midcap and smallcap indices tumbled up to 2.22%. India saw 53,476 new coronavirus infections in a day, the highest single-day rise so far this year, taking the nationwide COVID-19 tally to 1,17,87,534, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.
Global markets retreated as investors fretted over the rising COVID-19 cases and the slow pace of vaccination in many countries. In Asia, bourses in Shanghai and Hong Kong were in the red, while Tokyo and Seoul ended on a positive note. Stock exchanges in Europe were trading with losses in mid-session deals. Meanwhile, the global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 1.35% lower at $63.54 per barrel.
The Indian rupee fell by another 7 paise to settle at 72.62 against the US dollar. Foreign institutional investors were net sellers in the capital market on Wednesday as they sold shares worth Rs 1,951.90 crore, as per exchange data.