Sensex extends losses; metal, banks drag

Mumbai: The BSE Sensex today cracked below the 34,000-mark by plunging over 236 points to end at a nearly two-month low of 33,774.66 on sustained selling in PSU, metal and banking counters amid the massive PNB fraud weighing on investors’ sentiment. Moreover, renewed concerns that a rebound in global crude oil prices will have an adverse impact on fiscal deficit too kept participants cautious. Shares of Punjab National Bank (PNB) fell about 8 per cent, extending the decline for a fourth straight session, following the Rs 11,400-crore fraud at its Brady Road branch, Mumbai. The stock has fallen nearly 31 per cent in four straight sessions since the bank detected the fraud.

Last Wednesday, the PSU lender said it had detected a fraud in which diamond jewellery designer Nirav Modi allegedly acquired fraudulent letters of undertraking (LoUs) from one of its branches for overseas credit from other Indian lenders, and the matter is being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, among other agencies.

The 30-share Sensex barometer, which had lost 286.71 points in the previous session on Friday, plunged by 236.10 points, or 0.69 per cent, to end at 33,774.66 after touching a low of 33,554.37 intra-day. This is the weakest closing since December 21 last year when it had closed at 33,756.20.

Also, the broader Nifty too declined by 73.90 points, or 0.71 per cent, to end at 10,378.40. It stayed in the negative terrain through the session and a hit a low of 10,302.75. Meanwhile, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) continued selling on domestic bourses. On net basis, they sold shares worth Rs 1,065.99 crore, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) made purchases to the tune of Rs 1,127.78 crore on Friday, provisional data showed.

Globally, in the Asian region, Japan’s Nikkei rose 1.33 per cent, while markets in Hong Kong and China remained shut today on account of a public holiday. European markets were higher in their early deals.