With the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting rasing doubts about further quantitative easing, and global commodity prices taking a plunge down south, markets across Asia and Europe tumbled on Thursday, triggering a fairly severe bout of selling pressure on the Indian bourses.
After opening on a weak note, the market kept losing ground quite consistently and eventually ended the session with sharp losses, hitting its lowest levels in over two months.
The 30-share BSE sensitive index Sensex, which plunged to 19,289.70, ended the day with a loss of 317.39 points or 1.62% at 19,325.36. The broader 50-stock Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange closed at 5852.25, slightly off the day's low of 5844.40, recording a loss of 90.80 points or 1.53%.
Barring the BSE Consumer Durables index, which edged up marginally, all the sectoral indces ended in red on Thursday. Metal stocks tumbled, tracking weak industrial metal prices. The BSE Metal index went down by around 3.2%. Bank, realty, capital goods, oil and automobile stocks too mostly ended notably lower.
Power and FMCG stocks declined as well. Information technology and healthcare stocks found some support early on, but wilted under pressure as the session progressed. Besides several large cap stocks, scores of midcap and smallcap stocks too ended sharply lower on Thursday.
Among the stocks in the Sensex, only GAIL India (up marginally) closed on the positive side.
Among the metal stocks in the Sensex, Jindal Steel & Power, Tata Steel, Sterlite Industries and Hindalco lost 3.5% - 4.2%. Coal India, which fared relatively better, ended with a loss of around 0.7%.
ICICI Bank declined by 3.7%. Bharti Airtel, Maruti Suzuki, ONGC, Larsen & Toubro, Reliance Industries, Tata Motors, BHEL, Hindustan Unilever, State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, Mahindra & Mahindra and Wipro lost 1.5% - 2.8%. ITC, Dr Reddy's Laboratories, HdfC, Infosys and NTPC also closed weak.
Reliance Infrastructure, Sesa Goa, Jaiprakash Associates, IDFC, Punjab National Bank, DLF, Bank of Baroda, Ranbaxy Laboratories and Axis Bank lost 2% - 4%. Grasim Industries, Ambuja Cements, ACC, Siemens and Power Grid Corporation also ended notably lower.
ABB declined on disappointing results. Shriram Transport Finance plunged sharply amid huge volumes. According to reports, US private equity firm TPG Capital has raised $305 million by selling about half of its stake in commercial vehicle financier Shriram Transport Finance Co Ltd. TPG, which owned about 20% of Shriram Transport before the sale, sold the shares at Rs 715 each to a large number of overseas and domestic institutional investors, the reports said.
Videocon Industries, Nestle and Kingfisher Airlines saw some brisk buying on stock specific news.
The market breadth was very weak. Out of 2961 stocks traded on BSE, as many as 1929 stocks declined. 904 stocks moved up and 128 stocks ended flat.