New Delhi: The Indian equity benchmarks plunged on Thursday, halting a four-day winning streak amid a massive surge in Covid-19 cases and hawkish stance by US Federal Reserve. India has reported 90,928 new Covid cases in a day, the highest in over 200 days. And, US Fed’s December policy meeting has pointed towards quicker interest rate hikes to tame persistently high inflation.
The 30-share BSE Sensex slumped 621 points or 1.03 per cent to close at 59,602, while the broader NSE Nifty settled 179 points or 1 per cent lower at 17,746.
However, mid- and small-cap shares finished marginally higher as Nifty Midcap 100 index rose 0.13 per cent and Nifty Smallcap 100 index gained 0.21 per cent.
“The market has been facing downward pressure after touching its all-time high in October. While the economy has been recovering on expected lines, the global cues indicating unwinding of balance sheet expansion by central banks around the world have been a major factor. In this context, the US Fed’s hawkish stance has not been a surprise, but the negative market reaction today is primarily due to the indication of balance sheet reduction in the Fed minutes released. Almost all members showed concern on rising inflation and possibility of accelerating rate hikes followed by a reduction in the balance sheet,” Mohit Ralhan, Managing Partner & Chief Investment Officer of TIW Private Equity told NDTV.
“Although the timing remains uncertain, market participants are now expecting this to happen sooner than later. In addition, the rising cases of Covid-19 around the globe have also increased the risk levels. Overall, we remain cautious in the markets right now,” he added.
11 out of 15 sector gauges — compiled by the National Stock Exchange — settled in red. Nifty IT, Nifty Financial Services and Nifty Bank cracked as much as 1.55 per cent.
On the stock-specific front, JSW Steel was the top Nifty laggard as the stock dived 2.98 per cent to Rs 673.80. UltraTech Cements, Shree Cement, Tech Mahindra and Adani Ports were also among the losers.
On the flipside, UPL Ltd, IndusInd Bank, Bajaj Auto, Maruti and Bharti Airtel were among the gainers.
The overall market breadth stood positive as 2,000 shares advanced while 1,389 declined on BSE.
On the 30-share BSE platform, UltraTech Cements, Tech Mahindra, HCL Tech, HDFC twins (HDFC and HDFC Bank), Reliance Industries, and Kotak Mahindra Bank attracted the most losses with their shares falling as much as 2.58 per cent. Maruti, Airtel, Bajaj Finance, Titan and Axis Bank were among the gainers.