Stocks plunged on the Indian bourses today as investors went on a selling spree almost across the board, tracking cues from Asian and European markets, where the mood was quite bearish amid renewed worries about eurozone economy. The proposed hike in freight tariff in the Indian Railway Budget presented today, contributed as well to the weak sentiment in the market.
The BSE benchmark Sensex, which plummeted to 18,976.94, ended the day with a loss of 316.55 points or 1.64% at 19,015.14. The Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange closed with a loss of 93.40 points or 1.6% at 5761.35, slightly off the day's low of 5748.60.
Oil stocks, led by heavyweights Reliance Industries (down 3.5%) and ONGC (down 3.7%), declined sharply. Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and Petronet LNG lost 3.6% - 4%, while BPCL and Oil India declined by 1.8% and 1.2%, respectively.
Automobile, capital goods, metal, PSU and healthcare stocks too mostly ended sharply lower. Realty and bank stocks plunged as well. Power and consumer durables stocks too wilted under pressure, while select FMCG and information technology stocks found support.
Rail related stocks suffered sharp losses after the Railway Minister proposed to scale down the target of 700 km of new lines in the current year to 470 km due to inadequate resources. He also cut the target for gauge conversion for 2012-13, from 800 km to 575 km. All rail related stocks, Kalindee Rail, Titagarh Wagons, Kernex Microsystems, Hindustan Rectifier, Texmaco Rail Engineering and Stone India ended with sharp losses.
Among automobile stocks, Bajaj Auto, Mahindra & Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors lost 2.5% - 4.2%, while Hero Motocorp ended lower by around 0.7%. Ashok Leyland declined by 2.7%.
Capital goods stocks BHEL, Larsen & Toubro, ABB, Bharat Earth Movers, Bharat Electronics, Jindal Saw, Punj Lloyd, Praj Industries and Siemens lost 2% - 4%, while Suzlon Energy and Welcorp declined by 4.2% and 8%, respectively.
Metal stocks, Coal India, Hindalco, NMDC, SAIL, Sterlite Industries, Sesa Goa and Tata Steel lost 1% - 4.5%.
In the healthcare space, Biocon, Cadila Healthcare, Cipla, Dr Reddy's Laboratories, Divi's Laboratories, Lupin, Opto Circuits, Ranbaxy Laboratories, Strides Arcolab and Sun Pharmaceutical Indsutries, all ended sharply lower.
Realty stocks HDIL, Anant Raj Industries, Indiabulls Real Estate, Prestige Estates, Parsvnath Developers, Sobha Developers and Unitech lost 2% - 5.5%, while DLF ended lower by 0.8%.
Among banking sector stocks, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Bank of India and Union Bank of India lost 2% - 3%. State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, IndusInd Bank, Punjab National Bank and Yes Bank declined by 1% - 1.8%.
HDFC ended lower by 3.7%. Wipro, GAIL India, Tata Power and ITC lost 0.5% - 1%.
IDFC, Reliance Infrastructure, Ambuja Cements, HCL Technologies and Power Grid Corporation ended with sharp to moderate losses.
Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Bharti Airtel gained 1.4% - 1.6%. NTPC, Grasim Industries, Jaiprakash Associates and Hindustan Unilever ended with modest gains.
The market breadth was very weak. Out of 2961 stocks traded on BSE, as many as 2069 stocks declined. 777 stocks moved up and 115 stocks ended flat.
The Railway Minister Pawan Kumar, presenting the rail budget for 2013-2014, stated that losses on passenger operations in financial year 2013 will be around Rs 24,600 crore. He said 'steep increase in input costs can only be met by a hike in freight rates', and announced fuel adjustment component linked revision for freight tariff to be implemented with effect from 1 April 2013.
The minister said that the railways spent around Rs 100 crore on upgrading 3 Delhi stations and is aiming to borrow around Rs 1 lakh crore from the market during the 12th plan.
The rail minister has said that by fiscal 13 end, 1500 km of projects for dedicated freight corridor will be awarded.
The minister identified 104 stations for better infrastructure facilities and announced a plan to allocate Rs 2000 crore for land and station development, besides spelling out a slew of passenger-friendly amenities.