The Indian equity benchmarks fell sharply on Friday and snapped their four-day winning streak as fears surrounding the mounting Covid cases came back to haunt the market participants. The Sensex dropped as much as 1,068 points and Nifty 50 index dropped below its important psychological level of 14,650, to touch an intraday low of 14,601. Traders were seen booking profits ahead of the outcome of state assembly election results on Sunday amid rising Covid cases after a four-day upmove, analysts said.
The Sensex dropped 984 points or 2 per cent to close at 48,782 and Nifty 50 index tumbled 264 points or 1.77 per cent to settle at 14,631.
India posted a record daily rise in coronavirus cases of 386,452 on Friday, while deaths from COVID-19 jumped by 3,498 over the last 24 hours, according to health ministry data.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress party is expected to win 156 of the state’s 294 seats but the BJP will score a strong 121 seats, says NDTV’s poll of exit polls at the close of marathon state elections held since March. An aggregate of six exit polls predicts that Mamata Banerjee will make it past the half-way mark, enough to win a third straight term.
Selling pressure was broad-based as all the 11 sector gauges compiled by the National Stock Exchange, barring the index of pharma shares, ended lower led by the Nifty Bank index’s 3 per cent fall. Nifty Financial Services, Private Bank, PSU Bank, Auto and FMCG indices also fell between 1-3 per cent.
Mid- and small-cap shares outperformed larger peers with cut of 0.5 per cent.
HDFC was top Nifty loser, the stock dropped 4.3 per cent to close at Rs 2,429. HDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, ICICI Bank, Asian Paints, Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Motors, Adani Ports, Hindalco, Hindustan Unilever, Tech Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki, State Bank of India and Shree Cements also fell between 2-4 per cent.
On the flipside, ONGC, Coal India, Divi’s Labs, Grasim Industries, Indian Oil, Sun Pharma and Dr Reddy’s Labs were among the notable gainers.
The overall market breadth was negative as 1,587 shares ended lower while 1,358 ended higher on the BSE.