Mumbai: Market benchmark Sensex plummeted by 266.67 points Monday to close at a 20-month low of 24,188.37, dragged down by a massive dip in exports, while Reliance Industries cracked over 5 percent on crude oil slipping below USD 28 per barrel.
After the third straight session of fall, the index has dipped to its lowest level since the new government took charge on May 26, 2014.
Muted earnings and widening trade deficit to USD 11.6 billion in December as against USD 9.1 billion in the year-ago period, further battered the market mood, which is already rattled by depreciating rupee and concerns over health of the Chinese economy.
Global cues were muted after oil prices dipped to USD 27.67 a barrel, its lowest since 2003, as lifting of economic sanctions now allows Iran to resume crude exports.
"Small and mid-cap stocks tanked the most revealing that retail investors are cautiously selling their exposure and prefer to stay away from this market," said Vinod Nair, Head of Fundamental Research of Geojit BNP Paribas Financial.
Meanwhile, Indian merchandise exports contracted for a 13th month in a row, shrinking by 14.75 percent in December to USD 22.2 billion due to a steep fall in shipment of petroleum products.
The BSE Sensex resumed lower at 24,400.78 and hovered in a range 24,524.85 to 24,141.99 before ending at a 20-month low of 24,188.37, showing a loss of 266.67 points or 1.09 percent. This was the lowest closing since May 16, 2014.
The index has lost 665.74 points or 2.68 percent in three consecutive sessions.
The NSE 50-share Nifty dropped by 86.80 points or 1.17 percent to 7,351.00, a level not seen since June 2, 2014.
From the Sensex kitty, RIL was the worst-hit, down 5.14 percent ahead of its quarterly earnings tomorrow, followed by Bajaj Auto at 3.67 percent.
Shares of Wipro rose by 0.72 percent after it a posted 2 percent rise in December quarter net profit as business was hit by Chennai rains and seasonal furloughs.
The company's profit rose to Rs 2,234.1 crore, while revenue from IT services grew 9 percent to Rs 12,310 crore.
Besides, Asian Paints slumped 3.29 percent as it reported a consolidated net profit of Rs 463.28 crore on net sales of Rs 4,102.95 crore for the third quarter ended December 31.
From Asia, key indices in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea dropped by 0.02-1.45 percent, while China and Taiwan rose between 0.63 percent and 0.44 percent.
European markets swung between gains and losses after falling to their lowest in more than a year.
Back home, the small-cap ended in the negative zone by falling 4.05 percent while the mid-cap dropped 2.72 percent.
"Market started the week on a week note tracking global equities. Crude oil slumping to new lows, continued selling by foreign investors has put pressure on the indexes. Further, broad-based selling and depreciation in rupee also played havoc," said Gaurav Jain Director of Hem Securities.
Out of the 30-share Sensex pack, 19 scrips ended lower.
Reliance took the biggest hit as it plunged by 5.14 percent followed by Bajaj Auto 3.67 percent, Asian paints (3.29 percent), Cipla (2.72 percent), ONGC (2.12 percent), Coal India (2.12 percent),
L&T (2.09 percent), Dr Reddy's (2.04 percentt) and SBI (1.98 percent).
Other prominent losers were Bharti Airtel, NTpercent, HDFC, HDFC Bank, Maruti, ICICI Bank, M&M, Infosys and Tata Motors.
From the gainers pack, BHEL surged the most by climbing 4.29 percent, while Tata Steel rose by 2.76 percent and TCS perked up by 0.84 percent.
Among BSE sectoral and industry indices, energy fell by 4.12 percent, followed by oil&gas 3.43 percent, realty (3.16 percent), industrials (2.66 percent), telecom (2.56 percent), capital goods
(2.07 percent), healthcare (1.95 percent), utilities (1.83 percent) and power (1.77 percent).
The market breadth remained negative as 2,399 stocks ended lower, 329 closed higher while 139 ruled steady.
The total turnover rose to Rs 3,191.81 crore from Rs 2,920.07 crore on Friday.