Markets extended declines and key equity indexes capped a seventh week of losses in the last eight, as a looming cash crunch and headwinds from rising oil prices and a weakening rupee clouded the economic and earnings outlook.
The benchmark Sensex dropped 1 per cent or 341 points, to 33,349, falling 2.8 per cent this week. The broader Nifty fell 95 points or 0.94 per cent, to 10,030 — its lowest close in seven months. Friday’s close was the lowest since March 23, when the Nifty had closed at 9,998 — also the one-year low for the index.
Some investors expect volatility in the equity market to continue until the outcome of the upcoming Assembly elections, to be held over the next two months. The slide in the Sensex from its highest-ever closing level on August 28 has taken it into a so-called technical correction.
“Markets are likely to trade in a narrow range, with a mild negative bias going into state elections; liquidity will impact sentiment,” said Avinash Gorakshakar, head of research, Joindre Capital Services. “Overall, investors need to be ready for painful period ahead,” he said.
The Sensex has lost nearly 14 per cent since August and is set for its worst two back-to-back months since November 2008. The NSE Volatility Index gained 1.4 per cent, extending its surge since August 31, to about 53 per cent.
Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) sold shares worth Rs 13.6 billion on Friday, provisional data provided by stock exchanges showed. Domestic institutions were net buyers to the tune of Rs 18.75 billion. YES Bank paced Friday’s declines, dropping 9 per cent after reporting a July-to-September profit that trailed analyst estimates.
Analysts said disappointment in earnings is adding to market woes.
“The initial set of results was good but as the season progressed, companies are struggling to maintain decent operational efficiency due to rising input costs, interest rates and depreciation in the rupee,” said Vinod Nair, head of research, Geojit Financial Services.
“And if the global volatility continues, investors will be more focused on safe havens like gold and bonds.”
Only seven Sensex stocks ended with gains on Friday. Among the biggest gainers were Tata Motors and Reliance Industries, which gained 2.1 per cent and 1.4 per cent, respectively.
Fourteen of the 19 sector indexes compiled by the BSE retreated, paced by the S&P BSE Information Technology (IT) Index’s 2.1 per cent fall. The drop pared its gains in 2018 to about 20 per cent, still the best performer among rivals.
IT majors Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys dropped 2.9 per cent and 2.4 per cent, respectively.