Sensex plunges 292 points to four-month low; closes at 18,509

Sensex plunges 292 points to four-month low; closes at 18,509 Mumbai: Falling for the second day, the BSE Sensex on Thursday plummeted nearly 292 points to end at four-month low level of 18,509.70 on all-round panic selling, including ITC, Infosys and ICICI on concerns of corporates posting poor results and tension simmering in the Korean peninsula.

Across market two stocks fell for every counter that rose and as a result Rs 1 lakh crore investor wealth was wiped off. Selling was so strong that all 13 sectoral indices closed with losses in 0.42 percent and 3.39 percent range with realty, IT, consumer durable, banking, metal and power hit maximum.

After opening weak, the 30-share Sensex dropped by 291.94 points, or 1.55 percent, to end at 18,509.70, a level last seen on November 23 as overseas funds remained net sellers. The index had lost 239 points Wednesday.

"Current market movement is driven by global worries over Korea and at the domestic front political inability of the government, as major key bills which could open some positives for Indian economy are still pending," said a report by UK-based advisory company Equentis Capital.

Besides worries over economic health of US, IT stocks saw selling ahead of FY13 earnings of Infosys next week. Infosys and TCS lost over 2 percent each.

Private banks, including ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank, fell on worries over loan growth amid a subdued economic scene.

Sensex heavyweights Reliance Industries (RIL) and ITC saw sharp losses on heavy selling by foreign funds, said brokers.

The metal pack like Tata Steel and Sterlite faced steep losses of 3-4 percent.

The broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty plunged below 5,600 level by losing 98.15 points, or 1.73 percent, to 5,574.75. Investors also feared the fourth quarter earning season give a gloomy picture, traders said.

In Asia, Singapore, Hong Kong, S Korea and Indonesia markets suffered as reports said North Korea appears to have moved a medium range missile capable of hitting targets in South Korea. However, Japan's Nikkei closed 2 percent higher.

Markets in mainland China and Taiwan were shut for holidays. US stocks fell Wednesday following lower than expected readings on the US non-manufacturing sector and private-sector job growth.

European markets were trading narrowly mixed in their early trade as investors awaited an update on monetary policy from European Central Bank and Bank of England.

Key indices in France and Germany inched up by 0.45-0.77 percent while London's FTSE eased by 0.08 percent.

Turning to the local market, 24 scrips out of 30-share Sensex pack ended lower.

Major losers from Sensex were Tata Steel (3.97 percent), Sterlite Ind (3.09 percent), Infosys (2.74 percent), Hero Motocorp (2.67 percent), ITC (2.61 percent), Bharti Airtel (2.46 percent), Hindalco (2.37 percent), TCS (2.36 percent), BHEL (2.35 percent), HDFC (2.14 percent), ICICI Bank (2.07 percent), SBI (1.96 percent) and Reliance Industries (1.29 percent).

"Slowdown in China and fall in commodity prices are among the major concerns for the Indian markets. The political uncertainty will continue to impact market moves and with talks of an early election on the cards, market may turn cautious in the near term," said Amar Ambani, Head of Research, IIFL.

However, Dr Reddy's Lab firmed up by 3.03 percent, followed by Coal India (2.56 percent), HUL (1.68 percent) and Maruti Suzuki (1.06 percent).

From sectoral indices, S&P BSE-Realty tumbled by 3.39 percent, followed by S&P BSE-IT (2.45 percent), S&P BSE-Teck (2.44 percent), S&P BSE-CD (2.05 percent), S&P BSE Bankex (1.89 percent), S&P BSE-Metal (1.75 percent) and S&P BSE-Power (1.75 percent).

Total market breadth remained negative as 1,850 stocks ended down while 907 finished up. 111 scrips ruled steady.

Total turnover dipped to Rs 1,551.16 crore from Rs 1,963.93 crores on Wednesday.

PTI