Sensex dips to 20-mth low

Mumbai: The BSE benchmark Sensex fell for the fourth session in a row today to 20-month low, down over 72 points on sustained selling by foreign funds amid weak trend in Asia because of euro-zone debt troubles and a dip in banking stocks.

The Sensex, which has lost 832 points in last three sessions, fell another 72.45 points to 15,792.41, a level last seen on February 5, 2010. In a highly volatile trade, the gauge touched the day`s high of 16,044.91 and a low of 15,760.53 as banking stock extended losses a day after Moody`s Investors Services downgraded the top lender State Bank of India.

The Asian region was weak after the downgrade of Italy?s credit rating, which further dampened investor sentiment about the European debt crisis. However, European market opened up on reports that the euro-nations plan to re-capitalise banks. The broad-based NSE index Nifty fell 20.85 points to 4,751.30, after touching an intra-day low of 4,741 and a high of 4,827.80.

In all, 16 Sensex stocks closed with losses, while 14 ended with gains. The banking, consumer durable, refinery, metal, auto and power sector indices dipped, while a gain in healthcare, realty, FMCG and IT sectors rose and saved the market from a major fall. The banking sector index suffered the most – down 2.52 per cent to 9,961.54 as SBI, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Kotak Mahindra declined. SBI lost 4 per cent, its lowest since August 2009 and ICICI Bank by 2.72 per cent to its lowest since late 2009.