Sensex skids for third day on COVID headwinds; RIL, HDFC twins top drags

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Mumbai, May 4 (PTI) Market benchmark Sensex surrendered early gains to finish in the red for the third consecutive session on Tuesday following brisk selling in frontine stocks.

The grim COVID-19 situation and continued selling by foreign funds has sapped risk appetite, traders said.

After a gap-up opening, the 30-share BSE index succumbed to profit-taking in afternoon trade to finish at 48,253.51, down 465.01 points or 0.95 per cent.

On similar lines, the broader NSE Nifty slumped 137.65 points or 0.94 per cent to close at 14,496.50.

Dr Reddy's was the top loser among the Sensex constituents, retreating 2.26 per cent, followed by Reliance Industries, Sun Pharma, HDFC twins, Infosys, M&M and Bharti Airtel.

On the other hand, ONGC, Bajaj Finance, TCS, SBI, Kotak Bank and Nestle India were among the gainers, climbing up to 1.86 per cent.

'Indices lost a percentage on Tuesday as the street punished earnings disappointment in several high-quality midcaps. Afternoon trade witnessed profit-taking in metals and pharma names as the street exhibited nervousness on regional lockdowns which accentuated the weakness.

'In the broader market, paper stocks were sought after today on hardening pulp prices while coffee producers saw investor appetite,' said S Ranganathan, Head of Research at LKP Securities.

Binod Modi, Head Strategy at Reliance Securities, said the mounting uncertainty led by rise in second wave of COVID-19 cases weighed on investor sentiment.

While a persistent increase in daily caseload in several states is still a matter of concern, visible modest decline in new cases in many parts like Maharashtra and Delhi offers comfort, he added.

The total tally of coronavirus cases in the country mounted to 2,02,82,833 with 3,57,229 new infections being reported in a day, while the death toll increased to 2,22,408 with 3,449 new fatalities, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday.

Sectorally, BSE healthcare, energy, telecom, consumer durables, auto and basic materials indices lost as much as 1.50 per cent, while oil and gas, utilities and capital goods ended with gains.

Broader BSE midcap and smallcap indices fell up to 0.57 per cent.

Global markets were mixed as investors wagered on a strong economic rebound even as many countries see an unabated rise in COVID-19 cases.

Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Hong Kong and Seoul ended on a positive note. Stock exchanges in Shanghai and Tokyo were closed for holidays.

Equities in Europe gave up initial gains to trade mildly lower in mid-session deals.

Meanwhile, international oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 1.79 per cent higher at USD 68.77 per barrel.

The rupee gained for the second straight day and closed 10 paise higher at 73.85 against the US dollar on Tuesday.

Foreign institutional investors were net sellers in the capital market on Monday as they sold shares worth Rs 2,289.46 crore, as per exchange data. PTI ANS ABM ABM