Equity benchmarks reversed early gains to finish in the negative territory on Wednesday as a risk-off mood prevailed amid a grim prognosis of the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Weak global markets and the rupee plunging to its all-time low against the dollar further weighed on sentiments, traders said.
Paring its early gains, the rupee declined 17 paise to close at its all-time low of 76.44 against the dollar on Wednesday. Forex traders said a firm US dollar index weighed on the local unit. During the session, the rupee witnessed volatility and touched a high of 75.99 and a low of 76.48. On Monday, the rupee had settled at 76.27 against the greenback.
After gyrating over 1346 points during the day, the 30-share BSE Sensex ended 310.21 points, or 1.01 per cent, lower at 30379.81. Similarly, the NSE Nifty settled 68.55 points, or 0.76 per cent, down at 8925.30.
Kotak Bank was the top loser in the Sensex pack, cracking 6.23 per cent, followed by Hero MotoCorp (4.83 per cent), Bajaj Finance (4.63 per cent), HDFC (3.61 per cent), HDFC Bank (3.57 per cent) and Maruti Suzuki (3.55 per cent).
HUL, HCL Tech, ITC and Nestle were among the gainers, rising up to 6.07 per cent.
Despite opening on a positive note, domestic stocks gave up all gains in a highly volatile session following negative sentiments in global equities amid projections of a major slump in economic growth, traders said.
The IMF on Tuesday slashed India’s projected GDP growth to 1.9 per cent in 2020 from 5.8 per cent in January as the global economy is seen hitting the worst recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s because of the raging coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, the government on Wednesday said industrial units in rural areas will be allowed to function from April 20, provided they follow social distancing norms, while all kinds of public transport will be barred and public places closed till May 3.
“There may be greater clarity for the market participants as the details of the limited relaxation of the lockdown rules are announced by the state governments. But the volatility in the markets may stay with us till the trajectory of growth and price level becomes less uncertain,” said Joseph Thomas, head of Research — Emkay Wealth Management.
Analysts also said the focus will now shift to the earnings season and the management commentary on the impact of Covid-19.
“Almost all sectors have been affected by the lockdown and the market will try to measure the future financial impact of this rather than focusing on the previous quarter numbers.
“IT companies will kick off the earnings season and investors will be keen on how the virus spread has impacted their services and the locations in which those services are offered,” said Vinod Nair of Geojit Financial Services.