Indian equity benchmarks dropped for second session in a row on Thursday as rising Covid-19 cases across the country sparked fears of fresh lockdowns which may impact the economic recovery, analysts said. The Sensex fell as much as 944 points and Nifty 50 index dropped below its important psychological level of 14,300. Selling pressure was so intense that all the 26 constituents in the Sensex and 45 Nifty 50 stocks ended with a negative bias.
The Sensex ended 740 points or 1.51 per cent lower at 48,440 and Nifty 50 index dropped 225 points or 1.54 per cent to end at 14,325.
India’s daily COVID-19 cases hit a five-month high on Thursday and the country put a temporary hold on all major exports of the AstraZeneca coronavirus shot made by the Serum Institute of India to meet domestic demand.
“The market is definitely worried about the impact of the spread of COVID-19. There would be an economic impact and there are fears over a partial lockdown,” KK Mittal, an investment adviser at Venus India told news agency Reuters.
The markets witnessed heightened volatility as futures and option contracts for the month of March expired, analysts said.
All the 19 sector gauges compiled by the BSE ended lower led by the S&P BSE Telecom index’s over 3 per cent decline. Auto, Utilities, Capital Gods, Consumer Durables, Oil & Gas, Power, FMCG, Healthcare and IT indices also tumbled between 2-2.5 per cent.
Mid- and small-cap shares also witnessed intense selling pressure as S&P BSE MidCap index fell 2.2 per cent and S&P BSE SmallCap index declined 1.85 per cent.
Indian Oil was top Nifty loser, the stock fell 4 per cent to close at Rs 91. Maruti Suzuki, Coal India, Bharti Airtel, Hindustan Unilever, UltraTech Cement, Hero MotoCorp, Tata Motors, Eicher Motors, Bajaj Finance, NTPC, Adani Ports, Britannia Industries, Wipro, Reliance Industries and ONGC also fell in the range of 2.6-3.8 per cent.
On the flipside, Tata Steel, Dr Reddys’ Labs, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Larsen & Toubro were among the notable gainers.
The overall market breadth was extremely negative as 2,191 shares ended lower while 757 ended higher on the BSE.