New Delhi: Equity benchmark indices on Friday (April 24) ended on a negative note with the Sensex down 535.86 points or 1.68% at 31327.22, while the broader Nifty closing 159.50 points down or 1.71% at 9154.40. Major gainer on the Nifty included Reliance Industries, Britannia Industries, Cipla, and Sun Pharma, while top losers were Bajaj Finance, Bharti Infratel, Zee Entertainment, Bajaj Finserv, and Hindalco.
On the sectoral front, except energy and pharma, all other indices ended lower. About 773 shares advanced, 1545 shares declined, while 159 shares remain unchanged.
Indian rupee today depreciated by 40 paise to settle at 76.46 (provisional) against the US dollar, tracking weak domestic equities and a strengthening greenback overseas. The rupee opened lower at 76.30 at the interbank forex market and then fell further to 76.47 and finally closed at 76.46, down 40 paise over its last close.
On Thursday, the domestic currency had settled at 76.06 against the US dollar. The dollar index, which gauges the greenback's strength against a basket of six currencies, advanced by 0.31 per cent to 100.74.
Prior to the closure, the benchmark indices were trading near the day's low level with the Sensex down 511.50 points or 1.61% at 31351.58, while the Nifty was also down 154.65 points or 1.66% at 9159.25.
Equity benchmark indices were in the negative zone during early hours today as investors awaited government efforts on another stimulus package to shore up economic activity in the wake of COVID-19 lockdown. At 10:15 am, the BSE Sensex was down by 420 points or 1.32 per cent at 31,443 while the Nifty 50 edged lower by 123 points at 9,191.
Except for Nifty pharma which moved up by 1.3 per cent, all sectoral indices at the National Stock Exchange were in the red with Nifty financial service by 2.8 per cent, private bank by 2.7 per cent and realty by 2.3 per cent. Among stocks, Zee Entertainment lost by 6 per cent to Rs 148.25, a day after closing 3.7 per cent higher after Florida Retirement System (FRS) reportedly bought over half a per cent stake in the company.
Bajaj Finance and Bajaj Finserve were down by 5.2 per cent and 3.6 per cent respectively. Private lenders ICICI Bank slipped by 4.4 per cent, IndusInd Bank by 4 per cent, Axis Bank by 3.6 per cent and HDFC Bank by 2.6 per cent. However, Larsen & Toubro, Cipla, Hero MotoCorp, Coal India and Britannia traded with a positive bias.
Meanwhile, Asian shares and US stock futures fell today, spurred by doubts about progress in the development of drugs to treat COVID-19 and new evidence of US economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. MSCI`s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.4%.
US stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, were down 0.56%. Shares in China, where the coronavirus first emerged late last year, fell 0.79%. Euro Stoxx 50 futures were down 2.23%, German DAX futures slipped 2.19% and FTSE futures fell 1.36%.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq turned negative at the close on Thursday after a report that Gilead Sciences Inc`s antiviral drug remdesivir had failed to help severely ill COVID-19 patients in its first clinical trial.
US business activity plumbed record lows in April, mirroring dire figures from Europe and Asia as strict stay-at-home orders crushed production, supply chains and consumer spending, a survey showed. The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed a $484 billion bill to expand federal loans to small businesses and hospitals overwhelmed by patients.
MSCI`s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.24%. In Japan, shares in the Nikkei stock index slid 0.84% amid lingering concern about the spread of infections before the Golden Week public holidays. Shares in South Korea, which has won recognition for its aggressive measures to contain the coronavirus, fell 1.11%. Australian shares bucked the trend, rising 0.71% due to gains in the energy and resources sector.
Oil prices extended a tentative rebound from a price collapse this week that pushed US crude futures into negative for the first time ever, but investors remain concerned about weak energy demand and excess supplies of crude. US crude ticked up 4.85% to $17.30 a barrel, while Brent crude rose 3.98% to $22.18 per barrel in Asia as some oil producers said they will bring forward output cuts.
The outlook remains dim because global energy demand has evaporated due to business closures and travel curbs aimed at slowing the pandemic. In addition, some countries are running out of space to store the crude oil that they are not using.
The dollar headed for weekly gains against the Norwegian crown, the Canadian dollar, and the Russian rouble as investors chose to sell the currencies of major oil producers and keep their funds in dollars.
Elsewhere in the currency markets, the euro headed for its second weekly decline against the dollar after the European Union agreed on Thursday to set up a joint financial fund of up to 2 trillion euros to help recover from the pandemic but delayed a decision on the details of the programme until the summer.
The yen was little changed at 107.67 against the dollar. Japan`s currency fell briefly after the Nikkei newspaper reported the Bank of Japan will consider unlimited government bond purchases at a policy meeting next week Monday.
(With Agency Inputs)