Market benchmark Sensex plummeted by 266.67 points today to close at a 20-month low of 24,188.37, dragged down by a massive dip in exports, while Reliance Industries cracked over 5 per cent on crude oil slipping below USD 28 per barrel.
After the third straight session of fall, the index has dipped to its lowest level since the new government took charge on May 26, 2014.
Muted earnings and widening trade deficit to USD 11.6 billion in December as against USD 9.1 billion in the year-ago period, further battered the market mood, which is already rattled by depreciating rupee and concerns over health of the Chinese economy.
Global cues were muted after oil prices dipped to USD 27.67 a barrel, its lowest since 2003, as lifting of economic sanctions now allows Iran to resume crude exports.
“Small and mid-cap stocks tanked the most revealing that retail investors are cautiously selling their exposure and prefer to stay away from this market,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Fundamental Research of Geojit BNP Paribas Financial.
Meanwhile, Indian merchandise exports contracted for a 13th month in a row, shrinking by 14.75 per cent in December to USD 22.2 billion due to a steep fall in shipment of petroleum products.
The BSE Sensex resumed lower at 24,400.78 and hovered in a range 24,524.85 to 24,141.99 before ending at a 20-month low of 24,188.37, showing a loss of 266.67 points or 1.09 per cent. This was the lowest closing since May 16, 2014.
The index has lost 665.74 points or 2.68 per cent in three consecutive sessions.
The NSE 50-share Nifty dropped by 86.80 points or 1.17 per cent to 7,351.00, a level not seen since June 2, 2014.
From the Sensex kitty, RIL was the worst-hit, down 5.14 per cent ahead of its quarterly earnings tomorrow, followed by Bajaj Auto at 3.67 per cent.
Shares of Wipro rose by 0.72 per cent after it a posted 2 per cent rise in December quarter net profit as business was hit by Chennai rains and seasonal furloughs.
The company’s profit rose to Rs 2,234.1 crore, while revenue from IT services grew 9 per cent to Rs 12,310 crore.
Besides, Asian Paints slumped 3.29 per cent as it reported a consolidated net profit of Rs 463.28 crore on net sales of Rs 4,102.95 crore for the third quarter ended December 31.
From Asia, key indices in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea dropped by 0.02-1.45 per cent, while China and Taiwan rose between 0.63 per cent and 0.44 per cent.
European markets swung between gains and losses after falling to their lowest in more than a year.