Mumbai, Feb 21 (IANS) A benchmark index for Indian equities markets fell more than 300 points or 1.62 percent Thursday, ahead of the union budget and a day after data showed decline in loan growth and on weakness in global bourses. Bank, metal, capital goods, automobile and oil and gas stocks were the hardest hit.
The 30-scrip Sensex, the sensitive index of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), which opened at 19,549.05 points, closed at 19,325.36 points, down 317.39 points or 1.62 percent from its previous close at 19,642.75 points.
The Sensex touched an intra-day high of 19,554.65 points and a low of 19,289.70 points. The midcap index was down 110.37 points, while the smallcap index was lower by 116.11 points.
The wider 50-scrip S&P CNX Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed 90.80 points or 1.53 percent lower at 5,852.25 points.
Sentiments were subdued after data furnished by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Wednesday showed a decline in lending pace. Global cues also worried the markets, with major Asian exchanges ending in red over concerns on stimulus programme intended for the US economic recovery.
All the BSE sectoral indices were in the red, with an exception of consumer durables index, which was up 2.52 points.
There was heavy selling in bank, metal, capital goods, automobile and oil and gas stocks. The bank index was down 356.94 points, followed by the metal index, lower by 320.57 points; the capital goods index, down 204.69 points; automobile, down 163.79 pomits; and oil and gas index, down 162.60 points.
Nearly all of the 30 Sensex scrips declined except for natural gas utility Gail India. The stock was up 0.09 percent at Rs.338.10.
Major losers included Jindal Steel, down 4.19 percent at Rs.355.20; Tata Steel, down 4.18 percent at Rs.364.15; Sterlite Inds, down 3.77 percent at Rs.98.25; ICICI Bank, down 3.77 percent at Rs.1,078.45; and Hindalco Inds, down 3.54 percent at Rs.107.75.
Among other Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei closed 1.61 percent lower, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended 1.78 percent down. China's Shanghai Composite Index closed lower by 1.78 percent.
In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was down 1.39 percent, while the German DAX was trading 1.72 percent lower. The French CAC 40 was down 2.97 percent.