Indian equity benchmarks extended losses on Friday with the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex falling more than 1,200 points and Nifty 50 index dropping below its important psychological level of 17,200 on weak global cues after investor sentiment was dented by detection of a new and possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant. Reliance Industries, HDFC, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Infosys and State Bank of India were among the top drags on the Sensex. Asian stocks suffered their sharpest drop in two months on Friday after the detection of a new and possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant sent investors scurrying toward the safety of bonds, the yen and the dollar.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.3 per cent, its sharpest drop since September. Casino and beverage shares sold off in Hong Kong, and travel stocks dropped in Sydney.
Japan’s Nikkei skidded 2.5 per cent and U.S. crude oil futures fell nearly 2 per cent as well amid fresh demand fears.
As of 10:30 am, the Sensex was down 1,241 points at 57,554 and Nifty 50 index dropped 370 points or 2.11 per cent to 17,166.
Selling pressure was broad-based as thirteen of 15 sector gauges compiled by the National Stock Exchange were trading lower led by the Nifty Financial Services index’s nearly 2 per cent fall. Nifty Metal, Media, Bank, PSU Bank, Private Bank, Realty, Consumer Durables and Oil & Gas indices also fell between 1-1.9 per cent.
On the other hand, pharma and healthcare shares witnessing some buying interest.
Mid- and small-cap shares were also facing selling pressure as Nifty Midcap 100 index fell 0.88 per cent and Nifty Smallcap 100 index declined 0.5 per cent.
In the Nifty 50 basket of shares, 44 were trading lower led by ONGC’s 2.74 per cent decline. Maruti Suzuki, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Tata Motors, Hindalco, JSW Steel, Tata Steel, Bajaj Finance, HDFC, Grasim Industries, Titan, Mahindra & Mahindra and Reliance Industries also fell between 1.6-3 per cent.
On the flipside, Cipla, Dr Reddy’s Labs, Sun Pharma, Divi’s Labs, Power Grid and Coal India were among the notable gainers.
The overall market breadth was negative as 1,593 shares were declining while 1,160 were advancing on the BSE.