Closing at a 38-month low of 8,451 points, the Sensex fell 3.7 per cent during trading on Wednesday, down by over 5,000 points (38 per cent) since Lehman Brothers went bust on September 15 and almost 12,500 points (60 per cent) from its January 9 all-time high.
The last time the market traded at this level was on September 19, 2005.
Indices across the world fell, with Israel being the sole exception. The MSCI World Equity Index fell 2.3 per cent to its lowest since May 2003, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to its lowest since March 2003.
US Federal Reserve board members expect the US economy to contract till mid-2009. EU and Japan have already dipped into recession.
Driving the fall in India were realty firms, which together fell by 8.3 per cent. DLF and Unitech fell 8.6 and 9.9 per cent respectively. Expectations of price cuts, lack of liquidity and demand have pushed the realty index down by 88 per cent since January.
“December data on various economy fronts will be crucial as the market is reacting to the slowdown and high interest rates,” said Amitabh Chakraborty, president (equity), Religare Enterprises.