Markets fall 3.2% on week; euro zone weighs

Markets fall 3.2% on week; euro zone weighs

Mumbai: Indian shares dropped 3.2% this week, its third decline in four weeks to close 0.5% lower on Friday, on continued foreign fund outflows as euro zone jitters reduced risk appetite, sending world stocks lower.

Top engineering conglomerate Larsen & Toubro and metal makers led the decline.

The 30-share BSE index closed 0.45% or 74.07 points lower at 16,445.61. It fell as much as 2% in early trade to 16,187.03 points, its lowest since Feb. 25. The 50-share NSE index closed 0.3% lower at 4,931.15 points.

Nineteen of its components lost ground.

Dealers said bargain hunting at lower levels by domestic investors and a slight recovery in world markets prevented a big slide in domestic stocks. But, the near-term outlook for market was uncertain, they said.

“The situation is pretty volatile, with geographies from euro zone to China having their own set of worries," said Naresh Kumar Garg, chief executive of Sahara Mutual Fund, referring to the euro zone’s sovereign debt woes and China’s efforts to cool growth, which have lowered risk appetite.

“The concerns are real and it will take time to have more clarity on the issue. In these uncertain times, there is a likelihood of price-earnings multiples of emerging markets slipping a bit."

Foreign funds have withdrawn around $1.3 billion from stocks so far in May, sending the main index down 6.3%.

The funds are still net investors of $5.3 billion so far in 2010, following record $17.5 billion inflows last year.

Larsen & Toubro shed 2.1%, as traders logged gains. The stock is still up 5% so far this week, after it reported forecast-beating March quarter results on Monday.

Metal makers fell as outlook remained uncertain even though base metal prices recovered, dealers said.

Non-ferrous metals producer Sterlite Industries and aluminium maker Hindalco dropped 1.6% and 3.3% respectively.

Cigarette-to-hotel business ITC topped the gainers after it reported an in-line 27-percent rise in quarterly profit and said it will consider a bonus issue next month.

The stock closed 3.4% higher at Rs271.50.

State-run NTPC fell 4.2% after The Economic Times newspaper reported a group of ministers would decide next week on the top power utility’s 2005 dispute with Reliance Industries over pricing of a gas supply deal, which could raise gas prices for NTPC.

Road builder Jaypee Infratech made a dissappointing stock market debut, following the footsteps of state-run Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam a day earlier, with its shares falling as much as nearly 12%.

The stock closed at Rs91.30.

“I don’t think the IPO market will be deterred. It is clear that pricing has to be appropriate. That is the key," said Sahara Mutual Fund’s Garg.

In the broader market, declining shares outnumbered advancing ones in a ratio of 2.6:1 in relatively lower volume of 341 million shares.

World stocks as measured by the MSCI All-Country index were down 0.1% by 4:21pm, while its more volatile emerging markets component was down 0.2%.