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Sensex sinks 379 points, logs first fall in five sessions

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Mumbai :Ending a four-day rising streak, market benchmark Sensex today tanked 379 points amid foreign institutions selling heavily and domestic investors staying on the sidelines on concerns about rising bad debt and lack of clarity on fiscal consolidation road map ahead of the Budget.

Traders said that shifting of capital towards state-run NTPC’s Rs 5,030-crore share sale added to the selling pressure in the broader markets while global cues were also negative on renewed weakness in crude oil.

The 50-share NSE Nifty also broke below the 7,200-mark with a plunge of 125 points.

Asian shares came off from a seven-week high as the oil price rally that supported global equity markets fizzled out due to worries over supply glut, brokers said.

Globally, Brent for April dropped 43 cents, or 1.24 per cent, to USD 34.26 a barrel today.

On Monday, US crude rose back above USD 30 a barrel and European benchmark Brent climbed well over USD 34 on hopes that the discussions to freeze output would lead to concrete action.

Fund managers also remained anxious ahead of the Union Budget, which is due on February 29, as they seek clarity on government measures towards fiscal consolidation.

The Budget session began today during which major opposition parties plan to corner the government on JNU and other issues. Railway Budget will be presented on Thursday, followed by Economic Survey the next day, while the Union Budget will be unveiled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday.

The gauge lost for much of the session due to profit-booking before ending lower by 378.61 points, or 1.59 per cent, at 23,410.18. Intra-day, it moved between 23,851.51 and 23,361.94.

The markets had opened today on an almost flat note, but sell-off accelerated towards the afternoon trade.

The index had risen about 597 points in the past four sessions.

The NSE Nifty eased 1.73 per cent to 7,109.55 after shuttling between 7,241.70 and 7,090.70.

Of the 30-share Sensex pack, 28 lost while Asian Paints and ONGC finished higher.

Stocks of banking and realty bore the brunt. SBI, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and HDFC Bank fell by up to 3.94 per cent.

NTPC too ended 3.04 per cent down despite the institutional investor portion of its 5 per cent stake sale getting oversubscribed within two hours of opening of the trade.

The BSE realty index fell 2.49 per cent, PSU 2.32 per cent, oil & gas 1.87 per cent, metal 1.75 per cent and capital goods 1.70 per cent.

The mid-cap and small-cap indices were no exception, which retreated 1.47 per cent and 1.25 per cent, respectively.

Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) net sold shares worth Rs 656.93 crore yesterday, provisional data showed.

Globally, Hong Kong and Japan led the decline in Asian stocks.

Europe was trading lower as key indices in France and the UK were down by up to 0.69 per cent.

PTI

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