Mumbai: Stocks fell for the first time in five sessions after market benchmark Sensex today crashed 379 points as foreign investors sold heavily and domestic players stayed on the sidelines on concerns over rising bad loans and lack of clarity on fiscal consolidation ahead of the Budget.
Shifting of capital towards state-owned NTPC's Rs 5,030-crore share sale, traders said, intensified selling pressure in broader markets while global cues turned negative following renewed weakness in crude oil.
The 50-share NSE Nifty also broke below the 7,200-mark with a plunge of 125 points.
"Bears peeled off last three days' gains influenced by the drop in crude prices. In addition, investors are taking a wait and watch approach ahead of F&O expiry and the Budget," said Vinod Nair, Head-Fundamental Research, Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services.
Asian shares came off from a seven-week high as the oil price rally which had propped up equity markets faltered due to worries of oversupply, brokers said.
Globally, Brent for April dropped 43 cents, or 1.24 per cent, to USD 34.26 a barrel today.
Fund managers remained anxious ahead of the Union Budget, which is due on February 29, as they seek clarity on government measures towards fiscal discipline.
The Budget session began today during which opposition parties plan to corner the government on JNU and other issues. The Railway Budget will be presented on Thursday, followed by the Economic Survey the next day, while the Union Budget will be unveiled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday.
The gauge lost for much of the session due to profit-booking before ending lower by 378.61 points, or 1.59 per cent, at 23,410.18. Intra-day, it moved between 23,851.51 and 23,361.94.
The markets had opened today on an almost flat note, but sell-off accelerated towards the afternoon trade.
The index had risen about 597 points in the past four sessions. The NSE Nifty eased 1.73 per cent to 7,109.55 after shuttling between 7,241.70 and 7,090.70.
Of the 30-share Sensex pack, 28 lost while Asian Paints and ONGC finished higher.
Stocks of banking and realty bore the brunt. SBI, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and HDFC Bank fell by up to 3.94 per cent.
NTPC ended 3.04 per cent down despite the institutional investor portion of its 5 per cent stake sale getting oversubscribed within two hours of opening of the trade. The BSE realty index fell 2.49 per cent, PSU 2.32 per cent, oil & gas 1.87 per cent, metal 1.75 per cent and capital goods 1.70 per cent.
The mid-cap and small-cap indices were no exception, which retreated 1.47 per cent and 1.25 per cent, respectively.
Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) net sold shares worth Rs 656.93 crore yesterday, provisional data showed.
Hong Kong and Japan led the decline in Asian stocks. Europe was trading lower as key indices in France and the UK were down by up to 0.69 per cent.
On Monday, US crude rose back above USD 30 a barrel and European benchmark Brent climbed well over USD 34 on hopes that the discussions to freeze output would lead to concrete action.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 0.25 per cent while Japan's Nikkei was down 0.37 per cent and Shanghai Composite lost 0.81 per cent. Others that pulled down the indices include Coal India, Bajaj Auto, Hindustan Unilever, BHEL and Bharti Airtel.
Stocks of state-owned oil marketing companies such as Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum and Indian Oil were on a shaky wicket as they slumped by up to 4.87 per cent amid concerns that government may impose Customs duty on crude oil imports in the Budget.
The market breadth turned negative as 1,888 stocks ended lower, 713 closed higher while 150 remained flat. The total turnover rose to Rs 2,592.79 crore, from Rs 1,928.99 crore yesterday.
"To provide support to the domestic economy, spending is required which may impose pressure on the government to expand the FY17 fiscal deficit target of 3.5 per cent," added Nair.