Sensex drops 371 points to end at 1-week low; financial shares drag

People look at a large screen displaying India's benchmark share index, on the facade of the Bombay Stock Exchange building in Mumbai.

Benchmark indices ended lower by over 1%, amid weakness in Asian peers, with financials shares contributing the most to the decline.

Depreciating rupee and rise in crude oil prices further dampened investor sentiment.

The S&P BSE Sensex ended down 371 points at 24,966 and the Nifty50 closed 101 points lower at 7,615.

The Sensex and the Nifty touched an intra-day low of 24,895 and 7,588, respectively.

The broader markets ended weak in-line with the benchmark indices- BSE Midcap and Smallcap indices fell 1.5%-2%.

The market breadth in BSE ended dismal with 1,790 shares declining and 1,157 shares declining.

“Investors have resorted to profit booking ahead of March F&O expiry.

“Till the settlement, Nifty50 is likely to touch 7,800 or 7,900 led by short covering among metals, banking and cement sectors. Investors should reduce position at around 7,800-7900 and increase cash positions.

“Major correction in markets is expected in the second week of April and we expect Nifty50 to hit 6,600 to 6,300 in next 4-6 months” said AK Prabhakar, Head of Research, IDBI Capital.

At 15:30PM, the rupee was trading at 66.57 against the American currency on month-end bouts of demand for dollars from importers.

Oil prices firmed in thin Easter holiday trading on Monday, adding to gains in recent weeks as optimism holds that a production freeze among major producers may be implemented.

Stocks graphFurther, participants are patiently waiting for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) monetary policy review due on April 5 amid hopes of a 25 basis points cut in interest rates.

Meanwhile, volatility is likely to be witnessed this week on account of March series futures and options contracts expiry.

Among overseas markets, the dollar firmed on Monday and most Asian markets surrendered early gains as investors’ cautiously awaited US economic data and speeches by Federal Reserve officials this week that could signal more interest rate increases than expected. European markets are closed for the Easter Monday holiday.

Back home, shares of metal companies ended lower on the bourses on profit booking.

Vedanta, Hindalco Industries, Steel Authority of India (SAIL) and Bhushan Steel were down more than 2% each, while Tata Steel, Jindal Steel & Power, JSW Steel and NMDC down 1%-5% on the NSE.

The Board of Directors of Tata Steel is expected to meet on 29th March in Mumbai to discuss whether to retain or sell the plants in Scunthorpe and Port Talbot in the UK. Tata Steel melted over 5%.

Tata Motors has said it has signed a follow-on contract with the Indian Army to supply 619 units of its 6X6 HMV (high-mobility vehicle) multi-axle truck. Shares of Tata Motors fell almost 4%.

Financial shares too reeled under pressure ahead of the monetary policy by the central bank next week.

SBI, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank and HDFC slipped between 2%-4% on account of profit booking after recent gains.

Pharma stocks reeled under pressure amid observations from the US FDA and the recent ban on over 300 combination drugs by the government. Sun Pharma and Lupin were down 2%-4% each.

Natco Pharma was down over 5% after the company said it has received “minor” observations by US Food & Drug Administration (USFDA) following recent inspections at its two facilities and they will not have an adverse impact on its current or future products.

Among other shares, GVK Power & Infrastructure rose 6% after the company announced that its board of directors at the meeting held today has approved sale of 33% stake in Bangalore International Airport Ltd to FIH Mauritius Investments Ltd and Fairfax India Holdings Corporation for a consideration of Rs 2,149 crore.

Biocon has got approval from Japan’s health ministry to sell its biosimilar insulin Glargine in disposable pens in the country, the second largest market for insulin outside of the US and Europe.

The stock gained almost 5%.

[Source:- Rediff]