Market benchmark Sensex plunged by 318 points today to hit a fresh 19-month low of 24,455.04 as muted earnings by Hindustan Unilever and oil prices that fell below USD 30 a barrel combined to pull down the domestic equities for a second straight week.
A Finance Ministry statement that the government will stick to fiscal consolidation roadmap without compromising on development spending and expenditure budgeted for the current fiscal also failed to stem the rout.
On a weekly basis, the BSE Sensex fell by 479.29 points or 1.92 per cent while the broader NSE Nifty lost 163.55 points or 2.15 per cent. Previous week’s performance was much gloomier at 4.68 per cent and 4.54 per cent, respectively.
Markets traded in the negative zone for most part of the day, but losses grew in the later half on renewed sell-off in global indexes after oil slumped further into multi-year lows.
Besides, rupee depreciated in the intra-day trading to hit a fresh 29-month low of 67.70 against the dollar.
After commencing higher, the BSE benchmark advanced to the session’s high of 24,912.64 on value-buying in recently battered blue-chips and overnight strong rally in the US.
However, higher levels could not be sustained as selling reemerged and the index slipped to a low of 24,421.53 before settling 317.93 points or 1.28 per cent down at 24,455.04 -- its weakest closing since May 30, 2014.
The broader NSE Nifty cracked another crucial level of 7,500-mark to touch a low of 7,427.30 and finally finished 99 points or 1.31 per cent down at 7,437.80.
“Late selling pressure triggered by sharp fall in crude oil prices and global equities dragged Indian benchmarks sharply lower,” said Gaurav Jain Director Hem Securities.
Losses largely came from realty, power, banking, PSU, infrastructure, capital goods and metal stocks.
Hindustan Unilever took the markets by surprise with a 22 per cent slump in profits at Rs 971.40 crore for the third quarter. Consequently its shares ended 2.70 per cent lower.
From the Sensex, GAIL fell the most at 6.01 per cent followed by SBI with a 5.64 per cent plunge.
Overseas, Chinese stocks led decline in Asia amid worries over slowing growth. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite index ended 3.55 per cent lower. Other indices like Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea also fell by 0.54 per cent to 1.50 per cent.
European stocks were also lower as indices in France, Germany and the UK dropped between 0.95 per cent to 1.30 per cent.
Back home, out of the 30-share Sensex pack, 25 scrips ended lower.
Major losers were NTPC (4.58 pc), ICICI Bank (4.57 pc), Axis Bank (4.33 pc), Adani Ports (4.09 pc), Tata Motors (3.75 pc), Tata Steel (3.69 pc), HUL (2.70 pc), L&T (2.54 pc), ONGC (2.27 pc) and Asian Paint (1.20 pc).
However, Reliance Industries rose by 1.13 per cent followed by Infosys 1.02 per cent, Dr Reddy’s (0.74 pc), Maruti (0.56 pc) and Hero MotoCorp (0.28 pc).
Among the BSE sectoral and industry indices, utilities fell by 4.29 per cent followed by realty 4.20 per cent, power (3.88 pc), industrials (3.03 pc), capital goods (2.82 pc), bankex (2.72 pc), metal (2.61 pc) and telecom (2.54 pc).
The market breadth remained negative as 2,288 stocks ended lower, 399 closed higher while 144 ruled steady.
The total turnover dropped to about Rs 2,918 crore from Rs 3,151.51 crore yesterday.