The benchmark indices extended their losses and fell for the fifth consecutive day on Wednesday as the spread of coronavirus across the globe and the riots in Delhi rattled investors.
Analysts said investors worried that coronavirus might turn into a pandemic and halt growth in the global economy. This week, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) have yanked out Rs 10,000 crore ($1.4 billion) from domestic equities, dragging the index down about 4 per cent. On Thursday, the pull out was more intense as their selling exceeded buying by Rs 3,127 crore. Market players said besides the coronavirus outbreak, turmoil in the national capital has hurt investor sentiment and dented the country’s image as a liberal democracy and go-to investment destination.
On Thursday, the Sensex fell 143 points, or 0.36 per cent, to end at 39,746. The Nifty 50 index dropped 45 points, or 0.39 per cent, to close at 11,633. Barring two, all the BSE sectoral indices ended the session in the red.
“Markets have moved from complacency to fear with regards to coronavirus,” said Andrew Holland, CEO, Avendus Capital Alternate Strategies adding that investors are unsure how this will impact corporations around the globe.
Market players said if not for the buying by domestic investors, there could have a steeper decline. They bought shares worth over Rs 3,000 crore in each of the last two trading sessions.
The number of new coronavirus cases detected outside China surpassed those inside the country for the first time since the outbreak. Analysts warned that the unabated spread would result in the global economy growing at the slowest pace in a decade. As of Thursday, the virus has spread to at least 47 countries. Moreover, investors are worried that policy responses, including easier liquidity conditions, will be insufficient to manage the supply side disruptions caused by the spread.
In a note to investors, Credit Suisse said authorities and businesses had been forced to take drastic measures given the high degree of transmissibility. “Although the mortality rate of coronavirus is much lower than for SARS, its transmissibility makes it much more difficult to prevent it from spreading. Furthermore, the short-term economic damage of the coronavirus is likely to be more profound,” the note said.
Indian markets are already on a sticky wicket because of issues like a slowdown in earnings and economic growth. Experts said the events in Delhi, which saw the worst communal violence in three decades, are adding to investors’ woes.
Barring nine, all the constituents of the Sensex ended the session with losses. ONGC fell by 2.6 per cent, Mahindra & Mahindra by 2 per cent, SBI by 1.9 per cent, and IndusInd Bank by 1.7 per cent. Overall, 1,614 stocks declined, and 820 advanced on the BSE.