The BSE Sensex languished for the second straight session on Wednesday, largely in tandem with Asian markets as a rout on Wall Street and AstraZeneca pausing its COVID-19 vaccine trials spooked investors.
A strong showing by index heavyweight Reliance Industries — which rallied after announcing 1.75 per cent stake sale in its retail arm to US private equity firm Silver Lake Partners for Rs 7,500 crore — was not enough to offset the weakness in banking, IT and finance counters. After slumping 430.09 points during the day, the 30-share BSE benchmark recovered some lost ground to end at 38,193.92, down 171.43 points or 0.45 per cent. In similar movement, the NSE Nifty settled 39.35 points or 0.35 per cent lower at 11,278.
SBI was the top loser among the Sensex constituents, tumbling 4.46 per cent, followed by Bajaj Finserv, Axis Bank, ONGC, ITC, Bajaj Finance, ICICI Bank, Kotak Bank and HDFC Bank. On the other hand, Tata Steel, Reliance Industries, Sun Pharma, Bharti Airtel and Asian Paints were among the major gainers, climbing as much as 3.04 per cent. Asian markets spiralled lower after technology stocks continued to witness heavy selling on Wall Street. Risk appetite was further jolted after AstraZeneca said it is pausing trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate following a recipient developing a "potentially unexplained" illness.
"After opening with losses and drifting lower, the benchmark indices recovered towards the latter half of trading but still ended the day with losses. With Asian markets all ending in losses, the slight recovery seen in the Indian markets mirrored… the positive opening in the European markets. "A selloff in US tech stocks and a setback to one of the vaccine trials kept markets on edge. Indian markets are expected to be in sync with the global markets and also react to the on-going border tensions with China. There are currently no fresh triggers for the market and we can expect volatility," said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.
BSE bankex, finance, realty, IT, industrials and FMCG indices fell up to 2.14 per cent, while energy, metal, healthcare, telecom, basic materials and power closed in the green. Broader BSE midcap and smallcap indices fell up to 0.94 per cent. Bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo ended with significant losses. Stock exchanges in Europe, however, were trading on a positive note in early deals. Global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 1.33 per cent higher at $40.31 per barrel.
In the forex market, the rupee appreciated 5 paise to close at 73.55 against the US dollar.