After four straight days of gains, investors on Dalal Street took profit off the table amid lingering concerns on the Covid front and roadblocks in the vaccination drive. A weak global market mood further exacerbated the fall with the selloff gathering steam in the late afternoon session as investors unwound positions ahead of the weekend.
India for the ninth day reported cases over 3 lakh with the caseload nearing the 4 lakh mark. In the last 24 hours, the total fresh Covid cases stood at 3,86,693. Meanwhile, delay in vaccination amid shortages of jabs is hurting sentiment on the Street as investors banked on India's economy to revive amid a faster inoculation programme. States like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi have flagged vaccine shortages.
Amid this backdrop, the BSE flagship index Sensex ended close to the day's low at 48,782, down 984 points with only five constituents in the green. Meanwhile, its NSE counterpart Nifty declined 264 points to shut shop at 14,631. In spite of today's fall, the benchmark indices added 2% for the week, snapping their three-week losing run.
HDFC twins, ICICI Bank, Kotak Bank, Asian Paints and M&M were among the top Sensex losers today, down in the range of 3-4%.
Meanwhile, ONGC, Sun Pharma, DRL, Bajaj Auto and Power Grid were the only five scrips that managed to hold their head above water as Sensex turned into a sea of red.
The story on the sectoral side was somewhat similar with Nifty Pharma as the sole gainer, up 1.28%. Nifty Financial Services and Nifty Bank were the worst performers, down nearly 3% each.
The broader markets mirrored weak sentiment seen in the benchmarks but the quantum of fall was somewhat lesser. The Nifty Midcap100 index declined 0.37% and Nifty Smallcap100 0.40%.
In stocks-specific action, shares of Wipro jumped to a record high of Rs 511.95 on the BSE after the company revised its IT services revenue growth guidance to 8-10% for Q1FY22 as against 2-4% projected earlier. The scrip settled the day up only 0.73% at Rs 493.50.
IndiaMart InterMesh plummeted 9.47% on the BSE on weak operational performance in the March quarter of FY21. The B2B e-commerce firm's total income increased just 1 per cent to Rs 190 crore during the reported quarter from Rs 187 crore in the corresponding period of 2019-20.
Tata Coffee shares settled 2% higher after jumping over 9% in intra-day session to a 52-week high of Rs 139.70 after the company reported 2 fold jump in March quarter profit at Rs 57.37 crore.
Shares of RIL declined 1.42% ahead of its March quarter results slated to be out later in the evening.
IndiGo and SpiceJet declined up to 2% as India extended the international flight ban by a month.
Meanwhile, in other news.
Christopher Wood, global head of equity strategy at Jefferies raised weightage on India in his relative-return portfolio even as he believes that the stock market is potentially vulnerable in the absence of concrete evidence that India's second wave has peaked. Chis Wood has increased weightage on Indian equities by two percentage points to 14%.
Lastly, a look at the global markets.
Asian markets declined on Friday following a softer-than-expected survey on China's manufacturing. Mainland Chinese shares lost 0.25% while Japan's Nikkei shed 0.7%. MSCI's ex-Japan index declined 0.6%. In Europe, however, the Stoxx 600 gauge rose.
US stock-index futures also retreated as traders took a month-end breather amid a record high for the S&P 500 Index and some earnings disappointments. Futures on the S&P 500 Index dipped 0.3%, indicating a weak start to the Wall Street session.