Sensex dips below 18k level on heavy fund outflows

Mumbai: The Sensex nosedived by over 330 points to below the 18,000-mark on Tuesday on frantic selling by investors over concerns that rising input costs and a hike in interest rates will trim corporate earnings.

Led by auto stocks, the 30-share benchmark index of the Bombay Stock Exchange was down by 330.18 points at 17,997.58 at 1445 hours today. The Sensex lost nearly 825 points in the previous four sessions.

Similarly, the broad-based National Stock Exchange Nifty index slipped below the 5,500 points level, shedding 102.85 points to 5,403.05 at 1445 hours.

Selling pressure was mainly confined to automobile, realty, FMCG and refinery stocks, as investors felt the hike in prices of commodities like steel and rubber — which are vital inputs for these industries — and last week`s hike in interest rates by the RBI would hurt corporate earnings and reduce demand.

Among the auto stocks, Tata Motors Ltd tumbled to a four-month low by losing 5.47 per cent to Rs 1,085.40, while Bajaj Auto slid by 0.16 per cent to Rs 1,246.60 and Hero Honda by 0.40 per cent to Rs 1,624.

Realty stocks were also badly hit by the vitiated market sentiment, with investors worried that the hike in interest rates might hurt demand for homes.