Equity benchmarks spiralled lower for the fifth consecutive session on Thursday as a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in multiple states fanned fears of a second wave of the pandemic, even as global markets darted up after the US Fed reiterated its dovish stance. After rallying nearly 500 points earlier in the day, the 30-share BSE Sensex succumbed to selling pressure in afternoon trade to close at 49,216.52, down 585.10 points or 1.17 per cent. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty slumped 163.45 points or 1.11 per cent to finish at 14,557.85.
The Sensex has now lost 2,062.99 points in five sessions, while the Nifty has shed 616.95 points. After rising for the past few days, IT stocks bore the brunt of profit-booking in Thursday’s session. HCL Tech was the top loser in the Sensex pack, shedding 3.97 per cent, followed by Infosys, Dr Reddy’s, TCS, Tech Mahindra, Reliance Industries and NTPC.
On the other hand, ITC, Bajaj Auto, M&M, Maruti and Bharti Airtel were among the gainers, rising up to 3.25 per cent. Traders said rising COVID-19 cases in various parts of the country and reimposition of localised restrictions have unnerved investors. “Having seen a brisk gap-up opening on positive global cues, domestic equities fell sharply for the fifth consecutive day as sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the country made investors jittery. The mounting concerns of possible fresh economic restrictions made enthusiasm of dovish commentary from Federal Reserve short lived for domestic markets.
“Additionally, a fresh spike in 10-year US Treasury yield to 1.72 per cent also weighed on investors’ sentiments. Notably, investors’ wealth got eroded by over Rs 3 lakh crore today and around Rs9 lakh crore in last five trading days,” said Binod Modi, Head Strategy at Reliance Securities. BSE IT, teck, energy, healthcare, realty and capital goods indices lost as much as 3.02 per cent, while telecom and FMCG managed to finish higher. Broader BSE midcap and smallcap indices fell up to 1.58 per cent.
After its two-day policy meeting, the US Federal Reserve reassured investors that it expects to keep its key interest rate near zero through 2023, as it projected robust growth of the US economy this year. Stock exchanges on Wall Street ended with gains in the overnight session. Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul ended on a positive note. Bourses in Europe were also trading higher in mid-session deals. However, a spike in US treasury yields cast a cloud over global market sentiment.
Meanwhile, the global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 0.40 per cent lower at USD 67.73 per barrel. The rupee erased some of its initial gains to end 2 paise higher at 72.53 against the US dollar. Foreign institutional investors remained net buyers in the capital market as they bought shares worth Rs 2,625.82 crore on Wednesday, according to exchange data.