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Asian jitters in market

Mumbai, April 18: Convulsions in the stock market continued today as the BSE sensex gave up another 91 points to close at 6156.78, its lowest close since January 24.

Today's slide washed away Rs 15,000 crore from the market capitalisation of shares listed on Dalal Street, taking the loss in shareholder wealth to Rs 65,000 crore since Friday's 220-point plunge in the benchmark index. The sensex has fallen 11.5 per cent from its peak of 6954 on March 9.

The slump began in Asian markets earlier this morning, when key market barometers in Hong Kong lost 2.08 per cent, Taiwan 2.94 per cent and Tokyo 3.8 per cent. Optimists said the bear assault in India was less brutal.

'It is mainly due to bearish sentiments in the global market, which have been hit by a steep decline in commodity prices,' said a fund manager affiliated to a leading foreign bank. He said aluminium and copper prices have declined 7 per cent over the weekend, which has cast a shadow on metal stocks in the local market.

Some expect markets to bounce back as the economy is still strong, something that should keep corporate profits flowing. Others saw a silver lining in the way the sensex recovered 2.08 per cent from its intra-day trough of 6118. Losers outnumbered gainers in a ratio of 1212:843.

Banks, pharmaceutical and metal firms suffered big reverses. SAIL lost 7.92 per cent at Rs 54.05 and Nalco 5.17 per cent at Rs 154.10. Tata Steel slumped 3.55 per cent at Rs 353.25, while Hindalco was down 2.23 per cent at Rs 1,229. Dr Reddy's Labs was down 4.19 per cent at Rs 682, Ranbaxy Labs 1.78 per cent at Rs 935 and Cipla 1.02 per cent at Rs 232.

Oil majors BPCL and Indian Oil bucked the selloff on hopes that global crude rates will ease and the Centre will help them by raising prices. BPCL gained 3.1 per cent at Rs 374.05 while IOC was up 1.5 per cent at Rs 450.

Jaiprakash Hydro-Power escaped unscathed in its debut, finishing at Rs 31.15 against its issue price of Rs 32.

On the National Stock Exchange (NSE), the S&P cnx nifty declined further by 28.50 points to close at 1927.80. The 50-share index opened weak at 1955.50 and, after falling to 1914.85, recovered to end at 1927.80.

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