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Mumbai: Equity benchmark Sensex tanked 871 points on Monday, dragged by a selloff in financial stocks as spiking COVID-19 cases spooked investors and fanned concerns over economic recovery.

After plunging over 1,400 points earlier in the day, the 30-share BSE index pared some losses to finish at 49,159.32, down 870.51 points or 1.74 per cent. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty sank 229.55 points or 1.54 per cent to 14,637.80.

Bajaj Finance was the top laggard in the Sensex pack, plunging around 6 per cent, followed by IndusInd Bank, SBI, M&M, Axis Bank, Bajaj Auto and ICICI Bank.

On the other hand, HCL Tech, TCS and Infosys were among the gainers.

“The market witnessed a huge sell-off today as India’s second wave of COVID-19 is getting bigger than anticipated and is expected to ruin the pace of economic recovery. High valuation added further concern due to a possible downgrade in Q1FY22 earnings,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.

A policy decision in the upcoming MPC announcement and Q4 earnings will define the market volatility in the coming days, he added.

The rise in COVID-19 cases in India is a sobering reminder that challenges to recovery still remain, said Lalitabh Srivastava, AVP research, Sharekhan by BNP Paribas.

The provisional numbers of key banks indicate a consolidating trend in terms of advances growth but encouraging performance on deposit and CASA front, he added.

Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Seoul and Tokyo ended on a positive note. Markets in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Australia were closed for holidays.

Stock exchanges in Europe were also closed.

Meanwhile, the global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 2.20 per cent lower at USD 63.43 per barrel.

Rupee Falls By 18 Paise To Close At 73.30 Against US Dollar

The rupee declined by 18 paise to close at 73.30 (provisional) against the US currency on Monday on strong American currency and risk aversion in the domestic market amid concerns over rising COVID-19 cases.

Besides, losses in domestic equity markets weighed on investors’ sentiment.

At the interbank forex market, the local unit opened at 73.38 against the greenback and traded in the range of 73.28 to 73.45 during the day.

The rupee finally ended at 73.30 against the American currency, registering a fall of 18 paise over its previous closing of 73.12. The forex market was closed on April 2, on account of Good Friday.

Meanwhile, the dollar index, which gauges the greenback’s strength against a basket of six currencies, rose 0.05 per cent to 93.06.

“The Indian Rupee depreciated amid strong dollar and risk aversion in the domestic markets. Dollar is gaining strength amid surge in US treasury yields and upbeat economic data,” said Saif Mukadam, Research Analyst, Sharekhan by BNP Paribas.

Further, the rupee may slip on concern over rising COVID-19 cases in India.

India reported more than 1 lakh cases of corona virus for the first time. Maharashtra government announced new restrictions, including night curfews and weekend lockdowns.

“However, sharp fall was prevented on softening of crude oil prices. Rupee may trade in the range of 72.80 to 74.0 in next couple of sessions,” Mukadam added.

Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, was trading 2.05 per cent down at USD 63.53 per barrel.

On the domestic equity market front, the BSE Sensex ended 870.51 points or 1.74 per cent lower at 49,159.32, while the broader NSE Nifty declined by 229.55 points or 1.54 per cent to 14,637.80.

Foreign institutional investors were net buyers in the capital market as they purchased shares worth Rs 149.41 crore on Thursday, according to exchange data.

Gold Marginally Lower; Silver Declines Rs 216

Gold was marginally lower by Rs 15 to Rs 44,949 per 10 gram in the national capital on Monday amid muted trading and tepid global trends, according to HDFC Securities.

In the previous trade, the precious metal had closed at Rs 44,964 per 10 gram.

Silver also dipped by Rs 216 to Rs 64,222 per kilogram from Rs 64,438 per kilogram in the previous trade.

“Spot gold prices for 24 carat in Delhi were down by Rs 15 on muted trading,” according to HDFC Securities, Senior Analyst (Commodities), Tapan Patel.

In the international market, gold was quoting lower at USD 1,727 per ounce and silver was flat at USD 24.78 per ounce.

(This story is a compilation of 3 PTI stories)

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