Sensex falls for 5th session, shedding 468 pts

Mumbai: Stock markets fell for the fifth straight session on Monday, with the BSE benchmark Sensex losing nearly 468 points to close at 6-week low on continued selling by edgy investors, ahead of third quarter corporate results and weak global cues.

The key index has plummeted by a whopping 1,337 points or 6.5 per cent in five straight sessions.

The Bombay Stock Exchange index Sensex trimmed its early gains, and tanked by 467.69 points or 2.38 per cent to close at 19,224.12 — the level last seen on November 26, 2010.

Intra-day, it had fallen 533 points as investors continued to be bogged down by fears of interest rate hike coupled with negative show of global peers.

Similarly, the National Stock Exchange`s wide-based Nifty also extended losses with a fall of 141.75 points or 2.40 per cent to finish the day at 5,762.85.

Market observers called the bearish mood in the street `expected`, as the retail investors and FIIs are pulling out money in view of fears that the Reserve Bank of India will increase interest rates to curb surging inflation and have become cautious ahead of third quarter numbers.

"Street is facing panic selling by jittery investors as they are nervous that the increased cost due to rising inflation might result in lower profits for the corporates in the third quarter. Besides, weakness in the overseas markets is also dampening the sentiment back home," CNI Research CMD Kishore P Ostwal said.

Selling pressure continued in the interest-rate sensitive banking, realty and auto shares.

Banking stocks declined on concerns that higher deposits rates may impact net interest margins of banks, thereby hurting profitability. Top lenders HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank fell by 5 per cent and 3.22 per cent.

All the 13 sectoral indices ended the day in a negative terrain, with realty and capital goods sectors the worst hit.

Realty index saw a dip of 94.66 points to close at 2,570.94, while capital goods index plummeted by 516.35 points to settle at 14,165.33.

Heavy-weight capital goods giant Larsen & Toubro slumped by 3.53 per cent while realty majors JP Associates and DLF saw a dip of 4.18 per cent and 3.33 per cent respectively.

Of the 30-Sensex counters, only IT bellwether Infosys Technologies and the telecom major Bharti Airtel defied the fall in the broader market, with a gain of 0.90 per cent and 0.04 per cent.

"Infosys Technologies is attracting fresh buying as the investors are expecting smart third quarter numbers from the company," said an expert.

A plunge of 3.18 per cent in the country`s most valued firm Reliance Industries weighed heavily on the tumbling street.

Global cues were negative with Asian markets sliding on disappointing US job data and rising pressure on Portugal from Germany, France and other euro zone countries to seek financial help to prevent the debt crisis from spreading across the region.

European markets were also trading subdued in the afternoon trade.