Mumbai: Registering its heaviest loss this year, the benchmark Sensex Thursday tanked about 555 points to close at 24,851.83 -- a 19-month low -- as China's move to weaken the yuan faster to fight a slowing economy triggered a massive global sell-off.
The NSE Nifty felt the heat too as it cracked below the 7,600-mark as selling picked up across sectors.
The losses came amid concerns over a slowing growth in China, the world's second-largest economy, spooking investors worldwide, and pressure on its currency from capital outflows. China's central bank today lowered the yuan against the US dollar by 0.51 percent to 6.5646, the lowest since March 2011.
The 30-share BSE index ended the day with a steep fall of 554.50 points, or 2.18 percent, at 24,851.83, its lowest closing since June 4, 2014, when it closed at 24,805.83.
The Sensex has now lost 1,309.07 points in four straight sessions.
The broader NSE Nifty settled at 7,568.30, a sharp fall of 172.70 points, or 2.23 percent.
Asian markets went into a tailspin, with Shanghai shares crashing 7.32 percent, forcing authorities to suspend trading less than half an hour after opening as the new circuit-breaker tripped for the second time in a week.
All the 30 stocks in the Sensex team led by BHEL (6.98 percent), Tata Steel (6.85 percent) and Tata Motors (6.15 percent) ended in the red.
The sell-off also sparked losses in Axis Bank, Maruti Suzuki, ONGC, SBI, Adani Ports, L&T, Bajaj Auto, Hindustan Unilever, NTPC, Hero MotoCorp, M&M, HDFC Ltd, Lupin, Cipla, RIL, Dr Reddy's and ITC, falling up to 4.98 percent.
Realty, infrastructure, auto, metal and capital goods were among the worst hit as investors got anxious amid a global sell-off.
Power, PSU, oil and gas and banking also slumped.
The rupee was trading at a three-week low of 66.93 against the dollar, which contributed to the fall.
Sentiment further got hit after global crude prices softened to multi-year lows following China's weakening currency and rising global stock reserve.
The US benchmark crude contract slid below USD 34 a barrel while Brent fell to USD 33.61 per barrel.
The BSE realty index suffered the most tumbling 4.50 percent, followed by infrastructure 3.91 percent, auto 3.72 percent, metal 3.72 percent and power 3.45 percent.
In line with the overall trend, the BSE small-cap and mid-cap indices plunged 2.87 and 2.61 percent, respectively.
The weakness in Shanghai's composite index triggered an Asian share slump of 7.36 percent following overnight losses in US markets.
Foreign portfolio investors net sold shares worth Rs 242.48 crore yesterday, provisional data showed.
"The global markets are facing a currency-led uncertainty that's never been as stronger. While the impact is highly overdone in the short term, there is still some more pain for January up until closer to the Budget," said Dinesh Rohira, founder and CEO, 5nance.com, an online platform that deals in money management.
Japan's Nikkei was down 2.33 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng 3.09 percent, with Europe dropping to a three-month low in opening trade after yet another China rout. US stock futures slumped, indicating a downbeat open on the Wall Street.
The only silver lining was comments from parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu, who was quoted as saying that the government has agreed to the conditions laid down by the Congress to break the GST stand-off.
The market breadth remained negative as 2,198 ended lower, 680 closed higher while 101 ruled steady. The total turnover fell to about Rs 3,592 crore, from Rs 4,098.78 crore yesterday.