Mumbai: Benchmark Sensex plummeted more than 306 points on Wednesday while the broader Nifty finished below the 10,500-mark as stubborn fuel prices and renewed geopolitical concerns sparked a safe-haven flight among investors.
State-owned oil companies such as HPCL, BPCL, IOC, ONGC and OIL plunged on worries that the government may ask them to share the burden of higher petrol and diesel prices.
Metal stocks were the session's worst performers, led by Vedanta which lost 6.23 percent after protests against its copper plant in Tuticorin turned violent, leading to nine deaths.
A weakening rupee and lacklustre fourth quarter results further weighed on sentiment, brokers said.
On the global front, markets were caught off-guard after US President Donald Trump cast doubts over the proposed summit with North Korea and also expressed dissatisfaction with last week's trade talks with China.
The 30-share BSE Sensex, which opened higher at 34,656.63, witnessed selling pressure in afternoon trade. The sell-off suddenly picked up pace towards the end of the session, leading the index to the day's low of 34,302.89. The benchmark finally ended at 34,344.91 -- showing a loss of 306.33 points, or 0.88 percent.
This is its weakest closing since April 19, when the gauge had finished at 34,427.29.
Likewise, the 50-stock NSE barometer Nifty finished at 10,430.35, down 106.35 points, or 1.01 percent. Intra-day, it shuttled between 10,417.80 and 10,533.55.
Meanwhile, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) sold shares worth a net Rs 1,651.63 crore, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) bought equities to the tune of Rs 1,496.83 crore on Wednesday, as per provisional data.
"Market edged lower amid pessimism on global trade talks and below par fourth quarter earnings. Metals sank while PSU bank outperformed and prevented the market from a nosedive correction. Investors expect that the worst is over related to PSU banks NPAs with adequate provisions and expectation of recapitalisation from government.
"On the other hand, rupee continued to fall and the fear of inflationary pressure may lead the market to consolidate," said Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services.
Among Sensex components, Tata Steel topped the losers' list by falling 6.57 percent, followed by ONGC at 4.75 percent.
Other losers were IndusInd Bank 2.80 percent, ITC Ltd 1.92 percent, Adani Ports 1.80 percent, RIL 1.58 percent, HDFC Ltd 1.43 percent, Bharti Airtel 1.41 percent, Bajaj Auto 1.26 percent, HDFC Bank 1.22 percent, Kotak Bank 1.14 percent, Coal India 0.95 percent, Hero MotoCorp 0.78 percent, Infosys 0.70 percent, Maruti Suzuki 0.68 percent, Wipro 0.68 percent, HUL 0.66 percent, Axis Bank 0.56 percent, Asian Paints 0.55 percent, TCS 0.31 percent, Sun Pharma 0.23 percent and Yes Bank 0.06 percent.
However, SBI emerged as the top gainer, spurting 3.56 percent, followed by NPTC 0.82 percent, L&T 0.55 percent, Tata Motors 0.49 percent and M&M 0.05 percent.
Sector-wise, metal index tumbled 3.93 percent, oil and gas 3.45 percent, realty 1.26 percent, infrastructure 1.06 percent, PSU 0.96 percent, FMCG 0.71 percent, auto 0.54 percent, teck 0.48 percent, healthcare 0.37 percent, bankex 0.31 percent, IT 0.20 percent and power 0.08 percent.
The broader markets too displayed a weak trend, with the small-cap index falling 0.47 percent and mid-cap index shedding 0.24 percent.
In the Asian region, Japan's Nikkei fell 1.18 percent, China's Shanghai Composite index lost 1.41 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng retreated 1.82 percent.
European shares were down as well, with Frankfurt's DAX declining 1.47 percent and Paris CAC 40 losing 1.04 percent in early trade. London's FTSE too fell 0.65 percent.
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Updated Date: May 23, 2018 18:33:53 IST