Sensex ends lower, logs biggest weekly fall in a month

Mumbai: Sandwiched in a tight range, the Sensex closed down for the third day as prospects of more US interest rate hikes next year continue to keep investors on edge.

For the week, the Sensex lost 257.62 points, or 0.96 per cent, and the NSE Nifty 122.30 points, or 1.48 per cent. The weekly decline is the biggest since November 18, when the Sensex registered a fall of 668.58 points and the Nifty 222.20 points.

The 30-share index settled moderately lower by 29.51 points, or 0.11 per cent, at 26,489.56. It hit the day’s high of 26,594.55 and a low of 26,455.21.

The gauge had lost 178.75 points in the previous two sessions. Volume remained low as participants preferred to stay near the fence in absence of any positive cues.

Nifty’s 50-share NSE fell 14.15 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 8,139.45 at the close. Intra-day, it moved between 8,178.70 and 8,127.45.

With Parliament’s Winter Session a washout and a consensus eluding on the GST front, stocks moved without any clear domestic support and focus now shifts to the Union Budget.

The dollar soared to a near 14-year high against the euro overseas, which quickened the capital flight.

“The market is taking time to shake off the aggressive outlook of Fed. India is likely to underperform in the near term as the strengthening dollar and the rising oil price will add pressure to an already disrupted market,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services.

Data showed yesterday that trade deficit shot up to about a two-year high of USD 13 billion, mainly due to increase in gold imports. Rising oil prices, the prevailing cash crunch in the wake of demonetisation and its trickle-down effect on corporate performance and fears of economic slowdown made investors shaky, brokers said.

Bharti Airtel fell the most in the Sensex group by dropping 2.67 per cent followed by ONGC (2.30 per cent).

Aurobindo Pharma dropped 0.55 per cent following news reports that 20 US states have filed a lawsuit against the company alleging price manipulation of two drugs.

Others such as Adani Ports, ICICI Bank, ITC, Hero MotoCorp, Tata Steel, Axis Bank, Wipro, Coal India, Lupin, Bajaj Auto, GAIL, NTPC and Dr Reddy’s too retreated.

The BSE metal counter saw maximum selling, plunging 1.58 per cent, followed by infrastructure (1 per cent). Consumer durables and IT rose up to 0.82 per cent.

Broader markets too remained lacklustre, with small-cap and mid-cap indices ending lower by 0.25 per and 0.04 per cent, respectively.

Foreign funds net sold shares worth Rs 611.97 crore yesterday, showed provisional data.

Other Asian shares closed mixed. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.18 per cent while Japan’s Nikkei surged 0.66 per cent and Shanghai Composite rose 0.17 per cent.

Europe too was off to a mixed start as investors continued to digest the Federal Reserve’s rate hike. London’s FTSE was down 0.05 per cent and France’ Paris fell 0.01 per cent. However, Frankfurt gained 0.09 per cent.