In a choppy trade, the BSE Sensex fell for the fourth straight day today, although just about 12 points to 18,197.20, as investors sold realty, metal and oil stocks amid concerns over high interest rates and weakness in global markets on US and European debt worries. Investors, who have been dumping stocks across sectors after RBI hiked its key interest rates on Tuesday to tame inflation, stayed away from major purchases despite it being the first day of derivatives contract for the August series.
Top heavyweight RIL dropped for the fourth straight day and lost 1.15 %, impacting the market sentiment. ONGC, Jindal Steel, L&T and Sterlite fell as well. However, a smart rise in ICICI Bank, ITC, Infosys and Bharti Airtel cushioned the fall.
Realty counters continued to suffer the most on concerns that rising interest rates will hit demand. Metal stocks fell following declines in metal prices on the London exchange. The Bombay Stock Exchange 30-share index, Sensex, which fell over 661 points in the last three sessions, resumed lower and fluctuated between 18,334.27 and 18,131.86 before closing at 18,197.20, down 12.32 points or 0.07 %.
The broader NSE 50-issue Nifty also softened by 5.75 points or 0.10 % to 5,482.00. Asian stocks ended lower, while European stocks were trading weak in afternoon deals dampening sentiment. Apart from domestic concerns over high interest rates that crimp corporate margins, "Indian markets came off the day's highs after Moody's said that it had placed Spain's rating on review for a possible downgrade", said Amar Ambani, Head of Research at IIFL.
Ambani added, "A lot would hinge on the monsoon session of Parliament which begins next week. A few very important bills are slated to be presented in parliament. Hopefully, the warring political class will set aside its differences and clear at least some of them."
Meanwhile, ICICI Bank was the top gainer from the Sensex pack with a rise of 1.99 % due to strong Q1 results, posting 53 % jump in consolidated net profit. Globally, Asian stocks ended lower. The key benchmark indices in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan ended between 0.02 % and 1.40 % lower. European markets too displayed a feeble trend in the afternoon trade.
The CAC was down 0.79 %, the DAX by 0.77 % and the FTSE by 0.63 %. In all, 18 of the 30 index-scrips closed in losses, while others gained. Jaipra Asso was the top loser with a fall of 4.51 %, followed by Jindal Steel (4.43 pc), ONGC (2.89 pc), Hero Honda (2.14 pc), Sterlite (1.93 pc), Wipro (1.28 pc), REL Infra (1.23 pc) and DLF (0.94 pc). However, Maruti Suzuki rose by 1.81 %, Bharti Airtel (1.43 pc), Bajaj Auto (1.27 pc), ITC (1.09 pc) and Infosys (0.71 pc). From the sectoral indices, BSE-Realty dipped 2.09 %, Metal ( 2 pc and Oil & Gas (1.18 pc). The total market breadth at BSE continued to be negative with 1,746 stocks gaining ground, as against 1,121 that ending with losses. The turnover was relatively high at Rs 2,968.26 crore from Rs 2,810.40 crore yesterday.