Mumbai, April 3 (IANS) A benchmark index for Indian equities markets Wednesday slipped 1.26 percent ahead of the upcoming quarterly results and perceived political uncertainties following speculations about early general elections in the country.
Heavy selling was seen in automobile, capital goods, bank, metal, oil and gas and consumer durables goods stocks. Healthcare and power scrips, however, made gains.
The 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), which opened in the red at 19,034 points, closed at 18,801.64 points, down 239.31 points or 1.26 percent from its previous day's close at 19,040.95 points.
The Sensex slumped to a low of 18,721.71 points in intra-day trade and touched a high of 19,035.20 points.
The wider 50-scrip S&P CNX Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed at 1.31 percent or 75.20 points down at 5,672.90 points.
Traders and experts said the markets tanked on concern about political uncertainty after reports quoted BJP leader L.K. Advani as saying that general elections could take place this year itself along with six state assemblies.
The BSE automobile index was down 222.07 points, followed by capital goods index, down 213.86 points; bank index, down 199.13 points; metal index, down 184.04 points; oil and gas index, down 155.53 points; and consumer durables index, down 102.29 points.
The health care index went up 13.65 points and the power index gained by one point.
Of the 30 Sensex scrips, only four closed in the positive. These were Sun Pharma, up 1.54 percent at Rs.864.60; NTPC, up 0.94 percent at Rs.145.25; Tata Power, up 0.73 percent at Rs.96.05; and ITC, up 0.24 percent at Rs.307.85.
Twenty-six of the 30 Sensex scrips were losers -- among them were Bharti Airtel, down 3.95 percent at Rs.280.65; Bajaj Auto, down 3.68 percent at Rs.1,691.85; Tata Motors, down 3.45 percent at Rs.257.60; Larsen and Toubro (L&T), down 3.01 percent at Rs.1,379.55; and Sterlite Inds, down 2.79 percent at Rs.90.50.
Among other Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei closed 2.99 percent higher and Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended the day's trade 0.14 percent down. China's Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.11 percent lower.
In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.49 percent, and the German DAX was trading 0.20 percent lower. The French CAC 40 was down 0.46 percent.