Mumbai: The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex went below 15,000 by tumbling more than 304 points at noon on Wednesday because of brisk selling by foreign funds and retail investors, on monsoon concerns amid weak global trends.
The 30-share index dropped by 304.50 points to 14,770.09 at 1200 hrs as stocks of realty, metals and banks suffered heavy losses.
Similarly, the 50-share Nifty of the wide-based National Stock Exchange fell by 91.65 points to 4,379.70. All the sectoral indices dipped with losses up to 1.68%.
Marketmen said the equities fell sharply in the last few sessions on concerns that the weakest monsoon in the past five years would lead to lower farm output and spending.
Markets had fallen 1.5% by late morning as investor caution ahead of the conclusion of the US Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting weighed on markets across Asia following a drop on Wall Street overnight.
Worries that a shortfall in crucial monsoon rains will hit economic growth and concerns over pricey stocks also hurt sentiment, traders said.
Private-sector lender ICICI Bank, outsourcer Infosys Technologies and engineering and construction firm Larsen & Toubro were among the major losers on the main index.
Energy giant Reliance Industries, which has the most weight in the main index, fell 1.4% to Rs1,971, and state-run explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp slid 2.8% to Rs1118.90 as oil prices fell slightly below $70.
Sun Pharmaceutical, India’s top drugmaker by market value, bucked the trend and rose 2.5% to Rs1,235.50 after it got the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval to launch its generic version of GlaxoSmithKline’s Imitrex tablets to treat migraine.
The company also received US regulatory approval to launch oxaliplatin injections, the copycat version of Sanofi-Aventis’ Eloxatin that is used to treat colon and rectal cancer.
By 11:31am, the 30-share BSE index was down 1.5% at 14,847.55 points, with 27 stocks declining. The 50-share NSE index was down 1.5% at 4,406.55.
“The downward trend could continue for a few more days because we just don’t know how much of a negative impact the weak monsoon is going to have,” Ambareesh Baliga, vice president of Karvy Stock Broking, said.
“Liquidity was driving up the market till now, but that looks like it is drying up.”
The benchmark nosed up 0.4% on Tuesday, after shedding 5.6% over the past three sessions.
It had slid 3.25% last week after jumping 16 percent over the previous three weeks, buoyed by a worldwide equities rally on strong corporate earnings and improving signs of a global economic recovery.
The index has leapt 87% from a 2009 low in early March, and is up more than 56% this year after slumping by more than half in 2008, raising concerns about rich valuations.
ICICI Bank fell 2.5% to Rs699.05, while Infosys eased 1.8% to Rs2,043.50. Larsen & Toubro dropped 3.3% to Rs1,397.
In the broader market, losers led gainers by more than 2 to 1 on relatively moderate volume of 109.9 million shares.
Asian shares were lower on Wednesday, with Japan’s Nikkei down 1.3% while MSCI’s measure of other Asian markets fell 1.1%.
The US Federal Reserve is expected to keep US interest rates steady at near zero at a meeting that concludes on Wednesday, but end its long-term government securities buying programme amid signs the economy is stabilizing from a deep recession.
Policymakers will steer a careful course in acknowledging signs a turnaround may be near without triggering expectations that interest rate rises are imminent.