Equity benchmarks crashed for the second straight session on Thursday as a spurt in Covid-19 cases in the country and fears of localised lockdowns triggered an across-the-board selloff.
Bearish global cues and expiry of monthly derivative contracts added to the volatility, traders said.
The 30-share BSE Sensex slumped 740.19 points or 1.51 per cent to close at 48440.12. The broader NSE Nifty tanked 224.50 points or 1.54 per cent to 14324.90.
Maruti was the top loser in the Sensex pack, shedding 3.98 per cent, followed by HUL, Bharti Airtel, Bajaj Auto, NTPC, Bajaj Finance and UltraTech Cement.
Only four index components managed to close in the green — Dr Reddy’s, ICICI Bank, HDFC and L&T, rising up to 0.74 per cent.
“The increased rate of infection across the country and the world is creating more pessimism in the market. After the stellar rally, the market was on a consolidation stage during the last one month, which amplified after the sudden rise in infection impacting future economic growth.
“The economic fallout in India from the reduction in world GDP growth is likely to be marginal. A fall in the rate of infection through tougher restrictions and pace in vaccination may quickly stabilise the market,” said Vinod Nair, head of research at Geojit Financial Services.
Binod Modi, head of strategy at Reliance Securities, said the market capitalisation of the domestic market slipped below Rs 200 lakh crore for the first time after February 3, 2021, resulting in a wealth erosion of over Rs 5 lakh crore in the last two days.
All sectoral indices ended in the red, with BSE telecom, power, auto, energy, utilities and realty indices declining as much as 3.14 per cent.
Global markets retreated as investors fretted over the rising Covid-19 cases and the slow pace of vaccination in many countries.
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.
The global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 1.35 per cent lower at $63.54 per barrel.
The rupee fell by another 7 paise to settle at 72.62 against the dollar.