Mumbai: Falling for sixth straight day, the BSE benchmark Sensex on Friday closed 57 points down at a new four-month low of 18,735.60 on worries that economic reform momentum may slacken and global sentiment remained weak as a solution for the Cyprus issue continued to prove elusive.
Alternate bouts of buying and selling ahead of the expiry of derivatives contract next week was also a reason behind the lacklustre domestic market, a broker said.
The BSE 30-share barometer initially displayed signs of recovery but succumbed to selling pressure on sluggish Asian trends. It touched a low of 18,669.20 in late afternoon deals. Trading turned choppy in last two hours of trade, before closing at 18,735.60, down 57.27 points or 0.30 percent.
In six trading days, Sensex has tanked by 834.84 points or 4.27 percent. In the week, it has plunged by 691.96 points or 3.56 percent, its worst weekly loss in almost 15 months.
Today, 18 Sensex stocks declined led by SBI, ICICI Bank, Infosys, RIL, Bharti Airtel, Dr Reddy's and Tata Steel.
"Markets succumbed to selling pressure amidst uncertainty on the political front and renewed concerns in the eurozone," said Amar Ambani, Head of Research, IIFL.
Shares from consumer durable, realty, IT, teck, pharma, refinery and banking sectors closed with marked to moderate losses while some metal and auto stocks attracted buying.
Similarly, the NSE 50-issue CNX Nifty traded in a range of 5,691.45 and 5,631.80 before settling at 5,651.35, showing a fall of 7.40 points or 0.13 percent.
Trading is expected to remain insipid on account of market holidays next week on March 27 and March 29 on account of "Holi" and "Good Friday" respectively.
A weakening Asian trend and lower opening in Europe as Cypriot lawmakers begin a debate to search for a bailout to prevent a financial collapse, influenced the Indian market.
"On Eurozone front, situation could turn volatile if Cyprus is unable to raise the 5.8 billion euros necessary for a 10 billion euro bailout package by Monday," said Sanjeev Zarbade, Vice President - PCG Research, Kotak Securities.
Meanwhile, the government's 5.82 percent share sale in SAIL was fully subscribed helping the exchequer rake in about Rs 1,515 crore.
Asian stocks, except China, closed lower between 0.11 percent and 2.35 percent with Japan shares suffering the most on rise in yen against dollar.
European markets were quoting lower in their early trade after European Central Bank (ECB) yesterday issued a deadline to Cypriot parliament for meeting the terms of a proposed bailout. France's CAC was down by 0.47 percent, Germany's DAX by 0.50 percent and the UK's FTSE by 0.12 percent.
Back home, 18 scrips from Sensex pack settled lower. SBI dipped by 1.71 percent, followed by Tata Steel (1.68 percent), Sun Pharma (1.42 percent), Bharti Airtel (1.28 percent), TCS (1.27 percent), Tata Motors (1.22 percent), Dr Reddy's (0.90 percent), ONGC (0.82 percent), ICICI Bank (0.66 percent) and Infosys (0.55 percent).
However, Bajaj Auto rose by 3.85 percent, followed by Jindal Steel (3.11 percent), Hindalco (1.64 percnt), Hero MotoCorp (1.52 percent), Tata Power (1.43 percent), Sterlite Ind (1.31 percent) and NTPC (1.05 percent).
From sectoral indices, S&P BSE-CD was the top loser as nine out of 10 components closed with losses. TTK Prestige fell 3.63 percent, Titan Ind (2.67 percent), Gitanjali Gems (2.34 percent), Rajesh Exports (2.06 percent) and Videocon (1.17 percent). Other sectoral losers were S&P BSE-Realty (1.31 percent), S&P BSE-IT (0.82 percent) and S&P BSE-Teck (0.70 percnt).
"Going forward, doubts will be raised in the minds of investors as to how government will go ahead with any reform process, whether disinvestment process will go through smoothly and reaction of FIIs," said Asit C Mehta Investment Interrmediaries AVP - Institutional Research K Subramanyam.
The total market breadth continued its sluggish trend as 1,882 counters concluded with losses while 984 closed with gains. Total market turnover dipped to Rs 2,189.84 crore from Rs 2,488.48 crore yesterday.
Meanwhile, Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) picked up shares worth Rs 368.31 crore yesterday as per provisional data from the stock exchanges.
First Published: Friday, March 22, 2013, 16:59