Markets snap record run as virus caseload weighs; bank stocks lead decline

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Mumbai, Nov 19 (PTI) The Sensex and Nifty retreated from record highs on Thursday following heavy profit-booking in financial stocks amid a weak trend in global markets due to rising COVID-19 cases in multiple countries.

A depreciating rupee and concerns over frothy valuations further dented risk appetite, traders said.

After briefly touching its record intra-day high of 44,230 in a volatile session, the 30-share BSE Sensex ended 580.09 points or 1.31 per cent lower at 43,599.96.

Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty hit a fresh intra-day peak of 12,963, before ending 166.55 points or 1.29 per cent down at 12,771.70.

Both the key indices had ended at fresh lifetime highs in each of the previous three sessions. The Sensex and Nifty have closed in the red only twice this month so far.

SBI was the top laggard in the Sensex pack on Thursday, tumbling 4.88 per cent, followed by Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, UltraTech Cement, Bajaj Finance, HDFC Bank and Bharti Airtel.

On the other hand, PowerGrid, ITC, NTPC, Tata Steel and Titan were among the prominent gainers, spurting up to 2.43 per cent.

Global stocks slipped for the third straight day as the unabated rise in COVOD-19 caseload in various regions offset euphoria around vaccine progress.

'The increasing virus infections raised fears of additional restrictions and considering its impact on global economic activity, global market sentiments turned negative. This was in spite of the optimism surrounding the advanced stages of vaccine development. Indian markets also witnessed profit booking from recent highs, as investors turned cautious. Financials led the losses while defensive sectors such as FMCG and Pharma fared better.

'The positivity in Auto sales numbers continued and could be an indicator of economic recovery. However, increasing virus infections, which is again being reported in some parts of India, can offset this nascent recovery. We can expect short term volatility in the markets and investors are advised to remain cautious,' said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.

BSE bankex, finance, telecom, realty, metal, energy and auto indices tanked up to 2.75 per cent, while consumer durables, power, utilities and FMCG finished with modest gains.

In the broader markets, the BSE midcap index fell 0.65 per cent, while the smallcap gauge closed marginally higher.

Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Hong Kong and Seoul ended in the red, while Shanghai and Tokyo closed in the positive territory.

Stock exchanges in Europe also opened with sharp losses.

Meanwhile, Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, slipped 0.65 per cent to USD 44.05 per barrel.

The rupee depreciated 8 paise to finish at 74.27 against the US dollar. PTI ABM ANS ABM ABM