Sensex opens 97 pts down

Mumbai: The BSE benchmark Sensex lost over 97 points in opening trade today on sustained selling by funds and retail investors amid fears of a hike in key interest rates by the Reserve Bank of India at its monetary policy review meeting today.

The 30-share barometer, which has lost almost 604 points in the previous six sessions, fell by 97.39 points, or 0.51 per cent to 18,900.63 within the first few minutes of trade today, with auto, banking, consumer durables and realty sector stocks coming under pressure.

Similarly, the wide-based National Stock Exchange Nifty index declined by 25.80 points, or 0.45 per cent, to 5,675.50.

Brokers attributed the continuing downslide on the bourses to large scale sell-offs by funds and retail investors on weak cues from Asian markets and domestic fears that the Reserve Bank of India might announce a hike in key interest rate in its annual monetary policy review, to be released later today.

In other markets in Asia, Hong Kong`s Hang Seng index was trading lower by 0.11 per cent, while Japan`s Nikkei remained closed today on account of a `Public Holiday`.

In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended marginally down by 0.02 per cent in yesterday`s trade.