Sensex drops 123 points to end below 19K-level; Bharti, SBI fall

Sensex drops 123 points to end below 19K-level; Bharti, SBI fall Mumbai: The BSE benchmark index Sensex on Wednesday closed below the key 19,000 level for the first time in three weeks due to across the board selling triggered by concerns that economic reforms may be derailed in the wake of DMK withdrawing support to the government.

The 30-share index fell for the fourth straight session to close at 18,884.19 points, down 123.91 points. The Sensex has tanked by 3.51 percent or 686.25 points in the four sessions.

"Investors are apprehensive that the ongoing political uncertainty may derail reforms and in the process delay economic recovery," said Sanjeev Zarbade, Vice President- Private Client Group Research, Kotak Securities.

Bharti Airtel fell the most by 4.18 percent among the 30 Sensex stocks, followed by SBI which dropped by 3.87 percent.

The 50-issue CNX Nifty of the NSE also ended below the 5,700-mark at a fresh two-week low of 5,694.40, down by 51.55 points, or 0.90 percent, over previous close.

Today, five DMK ministers submitted their resignation to the Prime Minister, raising concerns over the fate of key reform bills like pension and insurance which are pending in Parliament.

Second-line stocks were at the receiving end on heavy sell-off by retail investors ahead of expiry of derivatives contract on March 28 as the BSE and the NSE will remain closed on on March 27 and 29 on account of 'Holi' and 'Good Friday', respectively, brokers said.

They said investor confidence also dampened as RBI yesterday, while cutting short-term lending rate, said that there is limited room for further monetary easing.

In 30-BSE index components, 19 stocks declined. Gains in Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, Hero MotoCorp, Hindustan Uniliver and ITC capped the losses to some extent.

Asian stocks closed mixed, with a rejection by the Cypriot parliament of a European bailout plan fuelling some uncertainty. Key indices from Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan settled in the red while from China and Hong Kong ended in the green. Japan market was closed for holiday.

However, European markets rebounded today and were trading higher in early trade, with investors absorbing the latest developments in the Cyprus. The CAC was trading up by 0.73 percent the DAX by 0.53 percent and the FTSE by 0.43 percent.

From the local market, 19 out of 30 Sensex-based counters closed with losses while others settled with gains. Bharti Airtel lost 4.18 percent, SBI 3.87 percent, NTPC 3.43 percent, ICICI Bank 2.85 percent, Hindalco 2.80 percent, ONGC 2.76 percent, BHEL 2.23 percent, L&T 2.12 percent, Maruti Suzuki 1.77 percent, Tata Steel 1.40 percent, Gail India 1.16 percent and HDFC Bank 0.78 percent while HUL rose by 3.37 percent, Tata Motors 1.51 percent, Cipla 1.47 percent, TCS 0.78 percent and ITC 0.64 percent.

From sectoral indices, S&P BSE-Realty plummeted by 4.67 percent, S&P BSE-Power by 2.65 percent, S&P BSE-PSU by 2.37 percent, S&P BSE Bankex by 2.10 percent, S&P BSE-CG by 2.04 percent, S&P BSE-Metal by 1.33 percent and S&P BSE-Oil&Gas by 1.11 percent.

Meanwhile, FIIs seemed to be slowing their purchases as they picked up shares only worth Rs 62.63 crore yesterday, as per provisional data from the stock exchanges.

The total market breadth was sharply negative as 2,126 shares ended with losses while only 761 concluded with gains. Total 390 shares in the downward circuit filter. Total market turnover was relative low at Rs 2,175.56 crore from Rs 2,363.55 crore yesterday.

PTI