The Indian stock market ended with steep losses today as investors pressed sales across several counters, amid lingering concerns about the global economy.
The overnight setback on Wall Street due to worries about the widening fiscal deficit and the resultant weakness in Asian and European markets rendered the mood quite bearish on the Indian bourses.
Though stocks recovered a bit after a weak start, they retreated soon, failing to find support at higher levels. Some weak earnings reports, particularly from banking sector heavyweight State Bank of India and steel major Tata Steel, weighed on sentiment to a significant extent.
The BSE benchmark Sensex, which tumbled nearly 200 points to 18,656.41, eventually ended the session with a loss of 162.58 points or 0.86% at 18,683.68. The Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange settled at 5686.25, slightly off the day's low of 5677.75, recording a loss of 52.50 points or 0.91%.
PSU, realty, metal, oil and bank stocks mostly ended notably lower. Power, consumer durables and capital goods stocks too finished on a weak note. Information technology and healthcare stocks found some support early on, but failed to hold at higher levlels. Automobile and FMCG stocks ended on a mixed note. Midcap and smallcap stocks traded weak.
State Bank of India ended nearly 4% down despite the bank reporting higher earnings for the quarter ended September 2012. A surge in non-performing assets triggered heavy selling at the counter. The bank's second quarter net profit came in higher than expectations, but net interest income fell short of forecast. Net profit climbed by a better than expected 30.17% (year-on-year) to Rs 3,658 crore in the second quarter of current financial year.
Net interest income grew by 5.3% to Rs 10,973 crore from Rs 10,422 crore during the same period. The bank's gross non-performing assets increased 4.3% (quarter-on-quarter) to Rs 49,202 crore while net NPAs jumped 11.3% (quarter-on-quarter) to Rs 22,614 crore in the quarter.
Tata Steel ended 3.2% down after the company reported a net loss of Rs 363.93 crore in the July - September quarter, compared with a net profit of Rs 212.43 crore in the corresponding quarter last year. Net sales rose 4.18% to Rs 33,867.32 crore in the second quarter of 2012.
ONGC (down 3%) also lost on disappointing quarterly results. The company reported a near 32% decline in net profit at Rs 5896.57 crore for the quarter ended September 2012.
Sterlite Industries and BHEL lost 2.3% and 2.1%, respectively. NTPC, ICICI Bank, Tata Motors, Hero Motocorp, Wipro, Infosys, Reliance Industries, Larsen & Toubro, GAIL India, Hindustan Unilever and Coal India ended with sharp to moderate losses.
Aditya Birla Nuvo, United Breweries, United Spirits, BPCL, Indian Oil Corporation and Neyveli Lignite Corporation attracted buyers on stock specific news. Godrej Industries, Power Finance Corporation and Cummins India declined on weak results.
The market breadth was weak. Out of 2978 stocks traded on BSE, 1733 stocks declined. 1122 stocks moved up and 123 stocks ended flat.