Markets wobble as Iran strikes US forces; telecom stocks spurt

Mumbai, Jan 8 (PTI) Equity benchmarks clawed back most of their lost ground to end modestly lower on Wednesday as global markets were whiplashed by a fresh wave of volatility after Iran launched retaliatory strikes against US forces in Iraq.

After plunging nearly 400 points in early trade, the 30-share BSE Sensex stabilised to finally settle 51.73 points, or 0.13 per cent, down at 40,817.74.

Similarly, the broader Nifty shed 27.60 points, or 0.23 per cent, to finish at 12,025.35.

World equities nosedived while gold and US Treasuries firmed up on safe-haven demand after Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases with US personnel in response to the killing of its top general Qasem Soleimani.

Brent crude oil futures rose nearly 0.62 per cent to USD 68.67 per barrel.

The rupee, which skidded 20 paise in opening deals, recovered to trade 3 paise up at 71.78 per US dollar (intra-day).

On the macroeconomic front, advance GDP estimates suggesting India's economic growth may drop to an 11-year low of 5 per cent in the current fiscal also kept investors cautious, traders said.

L&T was the top loser among Sensex constituents, shedding 2.19 per cent, followed by ONGC, Titan, Sun Pharma, Hero MotoCorp and Infosys.

On the other hand, Bharti Airtel, TCS, Ultratech Cement, Bajaj Finance and ICICI Bank spurted up to 2.74 per cent.

'Market is sensing some ease in tension with the view that there will be no effect on equities in the long-term. For the short term, market will adapt a careful tactic given limited room to grow due to premium valuation and slowdown in economy.

'As soon as the situation settles, the market will shift its focus on Q3 results and Budget,' said said Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services.

BSE capital goods, energy, industrials, oil and gas, metal and auto indices fell up to 1.42 per cent, while telecom, basic materials, teck and IT rose up to 2.43 per cent.

Broader BSE midcap and smallcap indices bucked the weak market trend, rising up to 0.16 per cent.

In rest of Asia, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul markets ended up to 1.57 per cent lower.

European bourses too started on a negative note. PTI ANS IJT