Sensex drops 126 pts as rupee haunts markets

Mumbai: The BSE barometer Sensex lost over 126 points on funds selling in auto, banking and realty stocks amid rupee breaching the 56-mark against the dollar and a insipid trend in the global markets. Squaring off activity ahead of the monthly settlement in the derivatives segment Thursday as well as expectations of weak GDP data for the March quarter also hit the market mood.

The Sensex, which had gained over 200 points in last two trading sessions, today opened lower on weak Asian trends and hit a day`s low of 16,295.31 as the rupee hit an intra-day low of 56.21, just 16 paisa away from its record low of Rs 56.38 hit on May 24. The 30-share index finally ended at 16,312.15, down 126.43 points, or 0.77 per cent with 20 stocks closing with losses. Key benchmark indices in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea fell by up to 2 per cent. European indices were last trading over 1 per cent down.

"Markets opened in red taking cues from weak Asian markets on hopes for strong stimulus spending in China faltered and more trouble in Spain posed fresh threat to the Euro Zone," Sharmila Joshi, Head Equity, Fairwealth Securities said. Tata Motors, which plunged 11.80 per cent, led the Sensex losers as the auto maker suffered heavy losses on reports that its Jaguar Land Rover unit missed market estimates. Other auto stocks like Bajaj Auto and Hero MotoCorp also ended lower.

Financial stocks including ICICI Bank, SBI and HDFC Bank fell between 1-2.6 per cent. Across the market, investor wealth worth Rs 53,000 crore was eroded in today`s fall. Brokers said the weak rupee, which breached the 56-mark again in early trades, made investors jittery and renewed fears of slowing economic growth.

"Stabilisation of the rupee seems to be a precondition for FII flows to resume," Manishi Raychaudhuri, Head of Research, BNP Paribas Securities India said. The 50-share NSE Nifty closed 39.35 points down or 0.79 per cent to 4,950.75. According to Shanu Goel, Senior Research Analyst, Bonanza Portfolio, sentiments have turned jittery on ahead of the May derivative series expiry on Thursday.

In the overseas markets, the euro fell to its record low in 23 months as investors worried over Spain`s banking problems. After more credit ratings downgrades of Spain and news of European Central bank rejecting Spain`s bank- recapitalisation plans, eurozone worries have heightened, experts said. In domestic markets, second-line stocks underperformed the large-cap stocks with BSE-Midcap and BSE-Smallcap tumbling by 1.28 per cent and 1.21 per cent respectively, indicating selling by retail investors.

Apart from Tata Motors, losers in the Sensex pack included BHEL (3.05 pc), ICICI Bank (2.62 pc), DLF (2.53 pc), Sterlite Industries (2.06 pc), Gail India (1.76 pc), ONGC (1.44 pc), Cipla (1.42 pc), Tata Steel (1.33 pc), L&T (1.14 pc) and SBI (1.08 pc). However, Sun Pharma that firmed up by 2.76 per cent, followed by Maruti Suzuki (2.12 pc), Tata Power (1.51 pc) and Hind Unilever (1.10 pc) were among the few Sensex gainers.

Among the sectoral indices the BSE-Auto fell by 3.97 per cent, followed by the BSE-Consumer Durable (2.25 pc), the BSE-Realty (2.18 pc), the BSE-Bankex (1.77 pc), the BSE- Capital Goods (1.49 pc) and the BSE-PSU (1.35 pc). The total turnover declined to Rs 1,736.52 crore from Rs 1,749.05 crore Tuesday. Meanwhile, Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) picked up shares worth Rs 90.50 crore on Tuesday as per provisional data with stock exchanges.