Sensex down 72 points

Mumbai: Tracking weak Asian markets, Sensex today fell by 72 points to 16,846.05, its lowest closing since June 18, amid concerns over deficient monsoon and delay in key economic reforms. Brokers said investors were also cautious ahead of the monthly settlement in derivatives segment on Thursday.

After opening marginally lower, the BSE benchmark index fell to the day`s low of 16,736.60 — close to 110 points down compared to yesterday`s close. However, the index recouped some losses to conclude at 16,846.05, still 72.03 points or 0.43 per cent lower. This is the lowest closing after June 18 when Sensex had closed at 16,705.83.

Traders said market participants feared that deficient rains will lead to a spurt in food prices. The absence of speedier economic reforms after the Presidential Elections is a major worry, said dealers. The down-trend was led by stocks of metal, consumer durable and power. In the 30-share Sensex, 21 stocks including Tata Steel, Hindalco and Wipro ended lower while nine scrips including ITC, Sun Pharma and GAIL ended higher.

Both Infosys and Jindal Steel touched their 52-week lows. HUL, RIL, Bharti that fell in the 1-2 per cent range dragged the index down. The sentiment was also negative as major Asian markets, including Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, closed lower on fears of deepening Eurozone debt crisis.

"Overall weak international news flow has kept selling pressure on metals over the last couple of days," said Milan Bavishi, Head Research, Inventure Growth & Securities. The 50-share National Stock Exchange index Nifty lost 18.60 points, or 0.36 per cent to 5,109.60, after breaching a crucial 5,100 level mark.