Equities extend rout to 4th day; energy, banking stocks lead slide

The rupee plummeted 81 paise.

Indian equity benchmarks spiralled lower for the fourth session on the trot on Thursday as investors fled risky assets amid heightened fears of a coronavirus-induced global recession.

After briefly turning positive in afternoon trade, domestic indices fell in tandem with Asian peers, with the BSE barometer Sensex settling 581.28 points or 2.01% lower at 28,288.23. It swung over 2,656.07 points through the session.

Similarly, the NSE Nifty tumbled 205.35 points, or 2.42%, to close at 8,263.45, after crashing below the 7,900 level intra-day.

The rupee plummeted 81 paise to breach the 75-mark against the US dollar during the day, which added to the gloom, traders said.

Bajaj Finance was the top loser in the Sensex pack, tanking 10.24%, followed by Maruti (9.85%), Axis Bank (9.50%), M&M (9.28%), Tech Mahindra (8.43%) and ONGC (7.35%).

The gainers included ITC, Bharti Airtel, Kotak Bank and Hero MotoCorp, spurting up to 7.50%.

“Global markets continued to trade with negative bias and high volatility amid fears over the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic which continues to weigh on investor sentiments.

“During the afternoon session the markets showed marginal pullback but it largely remained short-lived,” said Narendra Solanki, Head- Equity Research (Fundamental), Anand Rathi Shares & Stock Brokers.

BSE metal, capital goods, auto, energy and industrials indices cracked up to 7.17%, while telecom was the only gainer.

Broader midcap and smallcap indices plunged up to 4.53%.

Stimulus packages by global central banks and governments failed to lift investor sentiment in Asia, stoking the already-peaking fears of an economic recession.

South Korea’s Kospi was the worst-hit index in the continent, plunging over 8%, followed by Hang Seng, Nikkei and Shanghai Compositive Index.

Bourses in Europe, however, turned positive after the European Central Bank (ECB) announced a surprise EUR 750-billion stimulus package.

Faced with growing economic shutdowns, the ECB on Wednesday announced a surprise EUR 750-billion scheme to purchase government and corporate bonds, as it joined other central banks in stepping up efforts to contain the economic damage from the new coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Brent crude oil futures rebounded 5.55% to USD 26.26 per barrel.

The number of global coronavirus infections has shot past 2,00,000, with over 8,000 fatalities.

The total active Covid-19 cases in India stood at 148 on Thursday after 18 fresh cases were reported from various parts of the country, according to the Health Ministry.

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