Mumbai: Market benchmark Sensex on Monday fell to a 20-month low after plunging 266.67 points to 24,188.37, dragged down by a massive dip in exports, while Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) cracked over 5% on crude oil slipping below $28 per barrel.

Moreover, muted earnings and widening trade deficit to $11.6 billion in December as against $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.

Contracting for a 13th month in a row, Indian merchandise exports shrank 14.75% in December to $22.2 billion due to a steep fall in shipment of petroleum products. Oil prices, meanwhile, dipped to $27.67, its lowest since 2003 after lifting of sanctions now allows Iran to resume crude exports.

Resuming lower at 24,400.78, the Sensex quickly rebounded to the day’s high of 24,524.85 at the outset on spurt in Tata Steel, Wipro and Hero MotoCorp. However, it later slipped and touched a low of 24,141.99 before ending 266.67 points, or 1.09%, lower at 24,188.37. This is the lowest closing since 16 May 2014 when the index had closed at 24,121.74.

The NSE Nifty too remained under pressure and slipped below the 7,400-mark to hit a low of 7,336.40 before settling 86.80 points, or 1.17%, down at 7,351, its lowest close since 30 May 2014.

From the Sensex kitty, RIL was the worst-hit, down 5.14% ahead of its quarterly earnings on Tuesday, followed by Bajaj Auto at 3.67%. Others losers included Asian Paints, Cipla, Coal India, ONGC, L&T, Dr Reddy’s, SBI, HDFC, Bharti Airtel, HDFC Bank, Maruti Suzuki, ICICI Bank, M&M, Infosys and NTPC.

Out of the 30-Sensex constituents, 19 ended lower. Bucking the trend were, Bharat Heavy Electricals, which gained the most at 4.29% while Tata Steel surged 2.76%, while TCS, HUL, Hero MotoCorp, GAIL, Adani Ports, ITC and Wipro also rose by up to 0.88%.

Sectorwise, the BSE oil and gas index suffered the most by falling 3.43%, followed by realty 3.16%, infra 2.43%, PSU 2.17%, capital goods 2.07%, healthcare 1.95% and power 1.77%.

The broader markets too suffered with the BSE small-cap index plunging 4.05% while mid-cap fell 2.72%. Globally, other Asian markets fell but Chinese indexes rallied ahead of growth data for 2015 to be released on Tuesday. Europe fell to its lowest in more than a year in early trade as crude oil sank to a 12-year low.

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