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Markets in free fall, bank stocks pull Sensex down by 430 points

The BSE Sensex registered its lowest closing since December 14, when it had finished at 33,246.70. It was also the gauge’s biggest single day fall since February 6, when it had lost 561.22.

business Updated: Mar 06, 2018 17:34 IST
Press Trust of India, Mumbai
Sensex Today,BSE Sensex Today,NSE Nifty Today
The BSE Sensex had lost 698.97 points in the previous four sessions.(REUTERS File)

Indian equities tumbled like nine- pins on Tuesday, with the benchmark BSE Sensex plummeting by about 430 points to end at a nearly three-week low of 33,317 due to massive fag-end sell-offs in banking counters amid reports that the SFIO summoned other lenders in the PNB fraud matter.

The NSE Nifty 50 too fell over 109 points to 10,249.25, erasing all its early gains.

Bank shares felt the heat following reports that ICICI Bank managing director and chief executive Chanda Kochhar and her Axis Bank counterpart Shikha Sharma have been summoned by the SFIO in the PNB fraud matter.

| Read: PNB fraud: Chanda Kochhar, Shikha Sharma summoned to explain loans given to Gitanjali Gems

This was the lowest closing for the BSE Sensex since December 14 when it had finished at 33,246.70, and also its biggest single-day fall since February 6, when it had lost 561.22. Banking stocks led by State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank, Kotak Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, Federal Bank and Yes Bank fell as much as 2.77%.

Investor sentiment was dampened after reports that the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) had approached other lenders that have exposure to the firms promoted by scam-tainted Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi to help in the agency’s probe into the over Rs 12,000-crore PNB scam.

Banking shares came under more selling pressure after the RBI yesterday said it had imposed a penalty of Rs 3 crore on Axis Bank for violation of NPA classification norms and Rs 2 crore on Indian Overseas Bank for not complying with the KYC regulations.

The 30-share Sensex commenced on a strong note at 34,047.43 and advanced to a high of 34,060.13, tracking a firm trend in other Asian markets. It, however, slipped into a negative zone towards the fag-end to hit a low of 33,209.76 as participants booked profits at improved levels. The gauge finally settled 429.58 points, or 1.27%, lower at 33,317.20.

In the last five sessions, the index has lost nearly 1,129 points.

The NSE Nifty after reclaiming the key 10,400-mark touched a high of 10,441.35 in early trade but later slipped into negative zone to hit a low of 10,215.90. It finally settled at 10,249.25, showing a sizeable loss of 109.60 points, or 1.06%.

“Markets gave up gains despite positive trade in global market. Consolidation continues led by broad selling across all sector. Market has broken yesterday’s low while banks continue to struggle due to NPA issue, higher bond yield and cost of funds. Investors are little nervous to start accumulating and are waiting for major triggers to get direction...,” Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services Ltd, said.

The SFIO is said to have asked senior executives from the 31 banks who have done business dealings with the firms promoted by Modi and Choksi to be present at its office in the financial capital, according to sources.

Reacting to the development, Gitanjali Gems stock slumped nearly 5%, to hit its fresh 52-week low of Rs 18.35 on the BSE.

This is the 14th straight session of fall for the stock. It has lost as as much as 75% since February 14, the day the PNB fraud came to light.

Punjab National Bank share also shed 2.30% to close at 97.75 on the BSE.

Nifty Bank index turned negative down 1.49% at 24,448.45 as Canara Bank, PNB, Bank of Baroda, SBI, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Kotak Bank, HDFC Bank, Federal Bank, IDFC Bank and Yes Bank were down up to 5.10% after investigation deepened in the PNB fraud case.

Except consumer durables, all sectoral indices led by realty, banking, auto, capital goods and PSU, fell by up to 2.21%.

Among the heavy losers among Sensex components were: Sun Pharma, M&M, Maruti Suzuki, TCS, Bharti Airtel, HDFC LTD, Tata Motors, Wipro, Power Grid, ITC LTD, RIL, Bajaj Auto, L&T, Infosys, HUL, Dr Reddy’s, Asian Paints, ONGC and NTPC, falling up to 2.95%.

Bucking the trend, IndusInd Bank emerged as top gainer by surging 1.21%.

Broader markets too followed benchmarks as the small-cap index fell 1.32% and mid-cap 0.84%.

In the Asian region, Japan’s Nikkei rose 1.79%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng moved up 2.09%, while Shanghai Composite Index ended higher by 1%.

European markets opened higher despite uncertainty following Italy’s parliamentary election on Sunday which produced a hung parliament. Key indices in Europe such as Paris CAC 40 up 0.74% and Frankfurt’s DAX edged up 1.17%. London’s FTSE too rose 0.97% in their early deals.

Crude oil prices also extended gains for the fifth straight day, underpinned by robust demand forecasts and prospects for informal contacts sought by OPEC with US shale oil producers at a key industry meeting in Houston this week.

International benchmark Brent crude futures climbed to USD 65.60 per barrel, up 0.06 cents, or 0.09%. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures advanced to USD 62.68 a barrel, up 0.11 cents, or 0.18%.

First Published: Mar 06, 2018 10:18 IST