The Indian equity benchmarks fell for second straight session on Monday dragged by losses in heavyweights such as Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, HDFC, Bajaj Finance and Larsen & Toubro. The Sensex fell as much as 993 points and Nifty 50 index dropped below its important psychological level of 14,750. Buying at lower levels amid positive European markets and Dow futures helped benchmarks recover some lost ground in the last hour of trade.
The Sensex ended 397 points or 0.78 per cent lower at 50,395.08 and Nifty 50 index declined 101 points or 0.67 per cent to settle at 14,929.
Government data showed annual retail inflation rose to 5.03 per cent in February on higher fuel prices, which could pressure the central bank’s accommodative stance and raise interest rates which are at all-time low. Data also showed industrial output as measured by the Index of Industrial Production contracted 1.6 per cent year-on-year in January.
Resurgence in COVID-19 cases also weighed on the investor sentiment. The country reported this year’s biggest daily rise in cases, at 26,291 on Monday. India is the third-worst affected country globally with 11.39 million cases, behind the United States and Brazil.
Eight of 11 sector gauges compiled by the National Stock Exchange ended lower, led by the Nifty Financial Service and Pharm indexes’ over 1 per cent decline. Nifty Bank, Media, Bank and Private Bank indexes also fell around 1 per cent each.
On the other hand, the Metal index rose 1 per cent. IT and PSU Bank indexes also closed with a positive bias.
Mid- and small-cap shares also faced selling pressure as Nifty Midcap 100 index fell 0.7 per cent and Nifty Smallcap 100 index dropped 0.9 per cent.
Divi’s Labs was top Nifty gainer; the stock fell 3 per cent to close at Rs 3,410. Bajaj Finserv, GAIL India, Bajaj Finance, Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Auto, Larsen & Toubro, Dr Reddy’s Labs, Adani Ports, Asian Paints, Reliance Industries, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and HDFC also fell 1.4-2.8 per cent.
On the flip side, JSW Steel, Tech Mahindra, Tata Steel, Hindalco, IndusInd Bank, Power Grid, Eicher Motors, HCL Technologies and State Bank of India were among the gainers.
The overall market breadth was negative as 1,831 shares ended lower, while 1,224 closed higher on the BSE.