Budget Woes, Global Sell-Off Pull Sensex Down 310 Points

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Mumbai(PTI): A sell-off in global markets further hit sentiments on domestic bourses which are already reeling under budget woes, pulling the Sensex down by nearly 310 points to a three-week low and the Nifty by 94 points on heavy selling, mainly in banking, capital goods, and IT counters.

This was the fifth straight session of loss for domestic stock markets that saw a massive erosion in valuation after the government unveiled in its budget a proposal to levy 10 per cent long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax on equities and revised upwards its deficit target for the current fiscal at 3.5 per cent.

Since February 1, the day Union Budget 2018-19 was presented, the 30-share Sensex has plummeted by over 1,208 points in three sessions and the NSE Nifty has lost 361 points during the three-day period.

Investors also turned cautious ahead of the RBI policy meet this week as they feel that repo rate might be increased amid inflation concerns.

Asian markets too ended lower and European shares were in the negative zone in their early session following deep losses on Wall Street last week after a strong US jobs report and rising Treasury yields fanned fears of interest rate hike quicker than thought.

Meanwhile, the Indian government today tried to downplay the prevailing trend on the bourses, saying the sell-off in equity markets is due to a weak global sentiment and not because of long-term capital gains tax announced in the budget.

“Selling continued in the market as concern over bond yield and weak global market impacted the sentiment. Upcoming RBI monetary policy will be a key trigger for the market, the outcome of which is expected to be status quo, but any commentary over government s fiscal policy and concern over rising yield will add volatility…,” Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services Ltd, said.

The 30-share Sensex stayed in the negative zone through the session and hit a low of 34,520.80 before recovering partially to settle lower by 309.59 points, or 0.88 per cent, at 34,757.16, a level last seen on January 12 when it had closed at 34,592.39.

The barometer had lost 1,216.50 points in the previous four sessions, following nervous offloading of positions by participants, triggered by imposition of long-term capital gains of 10 per cent on equities in the Budget 2018.

Also, the 50-share NSE Nifty settled lower by 94.05 points, or 0.87 per cent, at 10,666.55 after shuttling between 10,586.80 and 10,702.75.

Foreign portfolio investors, however, remained buyers on the Indian bourses as they bought shares worth Rs 950 crore on Friday. But domestic institutional investors (DIIs) sold equities worth Rs 508.78 crore, according to provisional data from the exchanges.

Brent oil hovering around USD 70 a barrel in global market too had its shadow on the sentiments.

On the macro front, the Indian service sector remained in expansion mode in January, registering the fastest rise in activity in three months driven by a renewed increase in new business orders, says a monthly survey.

The seasonally adjusted Nikkei Services Business Activity Index improved to 51.7 in January, up from 50.9 in December, signalling a faster expansion.

The heavy losers among Sensex components were HDFC Ltd, L&T, Kotak Bank, IndusInd Bank, Bajaj Auto, Adani Ports, ONGC, Yes Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, TCS, Wipro, Hindustan Unilever, M&M, Asian Paint, Tata Steel and Infosys, down by up to 4.06 per cent.

Bucking the trend, Bharti Airtel emerged top gainers by surging 4.20 per cent after reports that Singtel raised its stake in the company.

Tata Motors, Power Grid, ITC Ltd, Coal India, Maruti Suzuki, Sun Pharma, Hero MotoCorp, NTPC, Dr Reddy’s, RIL and SBI too ended in the green.

Sector-wise, the BSE capital goods index declined the most, losing 2.65 per cent, followed by bankex 1.11 per cent, metal 0.56 per cent, realty 0.36 per cent, IT 0.29 per cent, infrastructure 0.13 per cent and consumer durables 0.11 per cent.

While telecom, auto, power, PSU, FMCG and healthcare ended higher.

Broader markets too followed benchmarks as the small-cap index fell 0.37 per cent and mid-cap fell 0.09 per cent.

In the Asian region, Japan’s Nikkei down 2.55 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.09 per cent, while Shanghai Composite Index up 0.73 per cent.

Key indices in Europe such as Paris CAC 40 shed 1.06 per cent and Frankfurt’s DAX lost 0.97 per cent. London’s FTSE eased 1.07 per cent.

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