Persistent selling forces Sensex to end below 24,000 for first time in 20 months

New Delhi :Market benchmark Sensex today sinked further to crack below the 24,000-mark after over 20 months by shedding 100 points to 23,962.21, bogged down by persistent selling in Asian shares, following fresh dip in oil prices.

The broader NSE Nifty also broke below the 7,300-mark.

Profit-booking in blue-chips after early gains, caution ahead of earnings announcement from more key corporates and further weakening of the rupee, which again breached the 68 mark against the dollar also took its toll.

Meanwhile, crude oil resumed its slide from USD 28 a barrel to hit fresh multi-year lows.

Resuming higher at 24,194.75, the BSE Sensex touched the session’s high of 24,351.83 in early trade on the back of value-buying in recently battered blue chips.

However, it failed to hold onto gains and dipped below the 24,000-mark to hit a low of 23,862.00 before ending 99.83 points or 0.41 per cent down at 23,962.21. This is the first below-24,000 closing since May 15, 2014.

The gauge had tumbled by 417.80 points yesterday tracking massive sell-off in global indexes on growth worries.

The 50-share NSE Nifty cracked below the 7,300-level by ending 32.50 points or 0.44 per cent down at 7,276.80, its lowest closing since May 30, 2014.

Out of the 30-share Sensex pack, 16 closed fell, while Bharti Airtel ended steady.

From the Sensex kitty, Maruti Suzuki was the worst-hit, down 4.11 per cent, followed by Dr Reddy’s at 3.86 per cent.

Other losers included Tata Motors, Coal India, Sun Pharma, ONGC, Hindustan Unilever, Cipla, RIL, L&T, M&M and ITC Ltd.

Private lender Axis Bank climbed the most at 5.21 per cent to Rs 408.90 after the company reported a 15 per cent growth in December quarter net profit.

Wipro, Infosys, SBI, Tata Steel, ICICI Bank, Adani Ports, HDFC Bank, Asian Paints, NTPC and BHEL were other winners.

Sector-wise, the BSE auto index took the biggest blow, down 1.86 per cent, followed by oil&gas (1.54 pc), healthcare (1.53 pc), FMCG (1.41 pc), metal (1.24 pc), PSU (1.02 pc) and capital goods (0.98 pc).

In broader markets, mid-cap index fell 0.30 per cent while small-cap index gained 0.53 per cent as investors widened positions in select counters.

Asian shares closed lower, with Shanghai index plunging 3.23 per cent, while Japan’s Nikkei ended 2.43 per cent lower. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 1.82 per cent.

European shares rose after the region’s stocks fell the most yesterday since August last year.