Sensex tumbles, biggest weekly fall in 18yrs

Sensex tumbles, biggest weekly fall in 18yrs

Mumbai: Shares tumbled 7% on Friday and posted their biggest weekly fall in nearly 18 years as panicky investors joined a global selloff on recession worries, with weak industrial data adding to the gloom.

ICICI Bank plunged as much as 28% to its lowest in almost four years, before trimming losses after the No. 2 lender’s joint managing director said the bank’s exposure to the global financial crisis was small and it had sufficient liquidity.

Sliding stocks sent the rupee to an all-time low against the dollar, while a cash crunch lifted overnight cash rates to their highest in 19 months.

Alarmed by the turn of events, the central bank slashed its cash reserve requirement for banks to free up some $12 billion in funds, but the move failed to calm jittery nerves.

Shares in ICICI Bank, which have lost 44% since the mid-September Lehman Brothers’ collapse, ended down 19.7% at Rs364.10 rupees - their biggest single-day fall, and down 27.8% on the week.

The stock was the most heavily traded on the Bombay Stock Exchange, clocking volume of 11.6 million shares.

The 30-share BSE index ended down 7.1% or 800.51 points, at 10,527.85 points, its lowest close since July 2006. It was the sharpest one-day percentage fall since January this year.

All but two components were in the red. In the broader market, losers swamped gainers 5:1 on volume of 317.3 million shares.

For the week, the benchmark lost 15.95%, its worst performance since December 1990.

Infosys Technologies fell as much as 17% after the No. 2 software exporter cut its forecast in dollars for the full year citing the global economic turmoil even as its quarterly profit rose 30%.

The BSE index, among the worst performer in Asia, fell as much as 9.6 at one stage to more than half below its record high of 21,206.77 hit in January, before trimming losses on domestic institutional buying.