Sensex dips 142 pts in volatile trade

Mumbai: The BSE benchmark Sensex on Tuesday dipped 142 points to 18,296.16 on fresh selling by funds on concerns about oil price rise in view of troubles in the Middle East, but an upsurge in the market heavyweight Reliance Industries cushioned the fall.

The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark index Sensex, which had touched the day`s low of 18,187.33, recovered partially in the last 30 minutes of trade to close at 18,296.16, down 142.15 points.

Similarly, the broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty dropped 49.40 points to 5,469.20, after hitting a low of 5,437.30 as stocks in capital goods, auto and banking suffered heavy losses.

Selling pressure gathered momentum on concerns that surging oil prices amid political instability in the Middle East and North Africa will fan inflation and prompt further hike in interest rates in the South Asian nation.

Besides, major market players were seen selling to avoid further losses ahead of this month`s settlement in the derivatives segment.

However, the heaviest-weighted on the index, Reliance Industries gained 2.98 per cent to Rs 985.05 as investors cheered the company`s USD 7.2 billion deal with UK energy giant BP. It saved the market from any major fall.

Twenty-five companies slid while five gained on the 30- stock gauge. The Sensex has lost 11 per cent this year, putting it among the top five worst performer after Egypt, Tunisia and Chile, amid concerns that government measures to quell inflation will hurt economic growth.

Oil jumped to the highest in more than two years as violence escalated in Libya, stoking concern that crude supplies will be disrupted.

The capital goods sector of heavy-machinery companies was a major loser by falling 2.12 per cent to 12,927.75, followed by auto sector – down 1.93 per cent to 8,448.72. Hero Honda Motors, the biggest motorcycle maker retreated for the third day by losing 3.96 per cent to Rs 1,391.05.

The banking sector index lost 1.85 per cent to 12,311.27 as HDFC Bank, the second-largest private lender, lost 2.59 per cent to Rs 2,143.60.

As the selling pressure spread over a wide front, midcap sector index lost 0.85 per cent to 6,602.56 and smallcap index by 0.73 per cent to 8,061.75.