Markets extend losses to 1%; banks fall

Markets extend losses to 1%; banks fall

Mumbai: Indian shares extended losses to 1% on Thursday afternoon, with financials leading the fall on rising expectations of a hike in key rates when the central bank reviews its policy on 20 April.

Weak world markets also weighed on investors’ sentiment.

At 1:55pm, the 30-share BSE index was down 1.04% at 17,782.90 points, with 27 components declining. The 50-share NSE index was down 1.1% at 5,314.70 points.

World equities fell on Greece’s fiscal woes and on concerns US interest rates would not stay at their current lows for much longer.

Investors were also cautious after the main index had hit a 25-month-high in the previous session, while inflation pressures pointed to another interest rate increase this month after a surprise hike in March.

By 11:10am, the 30-share BSE index was trading down 0.37% at 17,903.10, with 22 of its components declining. The 50-share NSE index was down 0.4% at 5,355.35.

“It is all because of global cues," said Neeraj Dewan, director of Quantum Securities, adding that it was a pause. He said the market had already priced in good March quarter results, but the rally still had legs. “If the results spring positive surprises, we may see the market rising by more than 3-5%," he said.

The benchmark index had risen for four days in a row to Wednesday, when it struck the highest level since February 2008.

It is up 2.5% this year after jumping 81% in 2009, boosted by foreign fund inflows of around $5 billion since the start of January.

Top lender State Bank of India was down 0.4%, while rivals ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank dropped 1% each. Mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corp shed 1.2%.

Investors will be watching weekly food and fuel price inflation due around noon (0630 GMT), which will provide clues to the central bank’s monetary policy meeting on 20 April that is expected increase interest rates.

Non-ferrous metals maker Sterlite Industries and aluminium maker Hindalco dropped 1.1% and 0.5% respectively as base metal prices declined in London.

Tata Steel the world’s eighth-largest steel maker by output, was down 0.9%. Tata Motors fell 1.4% after the top vehicles maker said late on Wednesday that one of its ultra-cheap Nano cars caught fire.

“The incident has impacted the stock price because Nano is a prestigious project for Tatas," said Dewan. “The financial impact though will not be significant."

In the broader market, gainers led losers in a ratio of 1.7:1 on volume of 162 million shares. There was more action in the mid-cap stocks, with the sector index bucking the trend and rising 0.4%.