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Mumbai: Equity benchmark Sensex plunged 740 points on Thursday, dragged by losses in index majors Reliance Industries, Infosys and HDFC Bank as monthly derivatives expired amid weak cues from global markets.

The 30-share BSE index ended 740.19 points or 1.51 per cent lower at 48,440.12, and the broader NSE Nifty declined 224.50 points or 1.54 per cent to 14,324.90.

Maruti was the top loser in the Sensex pack, shedding around 4 per cent, followed by Bharti Airtel, HUL, NTPC, Bajaj Finance, UltraTech Cement, ONGC and Reliance Industries.

On the other hand, Dr Reddy's, ICICI Bank, L&T and HDFC were the gainers.

Domestic equities fell as prevailing concerns with regards to sharp rise in COVID-19 cases have clearly dented investors' sentiments, said Binod Modi, Head - Strategy at Reliance Securities.

Barring financials and metals, all key sectoral indices ended in red.

Further, futures and options (F&O) expiry factor also contributed to volatility, he noted, adding that market capitalisation of domestic market slipped below Rs 200 trillion first time after February 3, 2021, resulting in wealth erosion of over Rs 5 trillion in last two days.

Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Shanghai and Hong Kong were in the red, while Tokyo and Seoul ended on a positive note.

Stock exchanges in Europe were trading with losses in mid-session deals.

Meanwhile, the global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 1.35 per cent lower at USD 63.54 per barrel.

Gold Gains Rs 44; Silver Weakens Rs 637

Gold gained Rs 44 to Rs 44,347 per 10 gram in the national capital on Thursday, supported by weaker rupee and overnight gain in global precious metal prices, according to HDFC Securities.

It had closed at Rs 44,303 per 10 gram in the previous trade.

Silver, however, dipped Rs 637 to Rs 64,110 per kg, from Rs 64,747 per kg in the previous trade.

The Indian rupee furthered its loss by another 7 paise to 72.62 against the dollar in early trade on Thursday amid growing concerns over surging coronavirus cases in India and some other parts of the world.

In the international market, gold was quoting marginally lower at USD 1,733 per ounce and silver was flat at USD 24.97 per ounce.

HDFC Securities Senior Analyst (Commodities) Tapan Patel said, "Gold prices traded steady with spot gold prices at COMEX (New York-based commodities exchange) trading near USD 1,733 per ounce on Thursday."

Rupee Skids For 3rd Day, Down 7 Paise To 72.62 vs USD

Dropping for the third consecutive day, the Indian rupee fell by 7 paise to close at 72.62 against the US dollar on Thursday amid concerns over surging coronavirus cases in India and some other parts of the world.

At the interbank forex market, the rupee opened lower at 72.68 a dollar, but recouped some of its losses during the session to close at 72.62, still down by 7 paise.

Meanwhile, the dollar index, which gauges the greenback's strength against a basket of six currencies, rose 0.14 per cent to 92.66.

Global oil benchmark Brent crude futures fell 1.40 per cent to USD 63.32 per barrel.

Analysts believe that volatility will stay in the market for sometime due to the uncertainty caused by the second wave of COVID-19 in India and a third wave in parts of Europe.

On the domestic equity market front, the BSE Sensex slumped over 740 points or 1.51 per cent to close at 48,440.12, while the broader NSE Nifty dived 224.50 points or 1.54 per cent to 14,324.90.

Foreign institutional investors were net sellers in the capital market on Wednesday as they sold shares worth Rs 1,951.90 crore, as per exchange data.

"Down trend continued in rupee for the third day in row following weakness in equities and increase in virus cases...With country battling a second wave of the pandemic and fund outflows ahead of financial year end, near-term risks are skewed to a higher dollar," said Dilip Parmar, Research Analyst, HDFC Securities.

Dollar index has been placed above key 200-day moving average resistance level at 92.63, with the dollar up against all G10 currencies amid risk-averse sentiments.

Spot USD-INR is expected to hold support of 72.26 and resist around 72.85, he added.

Saif Mukadam, Research Analyst, Sharekhan by BNP Paribas, said, "Indian Rupee depreciated on strong dollar and risk aversion in the global markets. Market sentiments are hurt on concern that new wave of COVID-19 infections across Europe may push authorities to implement new lockdowns hampering economic recovery, fear over potential US tax hikes, escalating tension between west and China."

Additionally, Rupee slipped on concern over rising COVID-19 cases in India. However, sharp downside may be prevented on softening of crude oil prices. Rupee may trade in the range of 72.30 to 73.0 in next couple of sessions, he added.

(This story is a compilation of three PTI stories)

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