Markets retreat as Govt hints at possibility of coronavirus lockdown extension
Domestic stock markets lost ground today and closed a highly choppy trading session on a weak note, giving up the strong rally in early trade, as Covid-19 cases continued to rise in India. The government also indicated that the national lockdown may get extended beyond April 14. An extended lockdown would mean a blow to the economy, markets and businesses.
The Centre is exploring the possibility of extending the lockdown after several state governments and health professionals suggested the same on the grounds that the coronavirus pandemic is still a real threat.
The S&P BSE Sensex slipped 173 points or 0.58 per cent to 29,894 levels, while Nifty declined 0.49 per cent or 43.45 points to close at 8,749.
Earlier in the day, Sensex climbed as much as 3.86 per cent or 1,161 points to 31,228 while Nifty surged 3.86 per cent or 340 points to 9,132.
Volatility index India VIX snapped its four-day losing streak to edge 1.20 per cent to 52.42.
TCS was the biggest loser, shedding about 4 per cent. Titan Company, ICICI Bank, and SBI were the other losers. Sun Pharma that gained nearly 5 per cent, was the top gainer on the index.
Of the 30 Sensex stocks, 16 closed in the red, with IT stocks and banks contributing the most to the losses on the index.
Among the 50 stocks in the Nifty index, 26 stocks were trading in the red. The top percentage losers were Shree Cement, Tata Consultancy Services, Titan Company, Hincaldo, ICICI Bank and Bajaj Finserv. The top Nifty gainers were Vedanta, Sun Pharma, Cipla, NTPC, Bharti Infratel and IndusInd Bank.
Among auto stocks, Ashok Leyland rose 10 per cent to Rs 43.80 apiece on the BSE while Maruti climbed over 3 per cent to Rs 4,697 even as the company informed that it had lowered production by 32.05 per cent in the previous month.
In the broader market, the S&P BSE Mid-Cap index rose 1.90 per cent, while the S&P BSE Small-Cap index gained 1.86 per cent.
The market breadth was strong on the BSE, with 1493 shares gaining and 860 shares declining.
The Indian currency ended 74 paise lower at 76.37 per dollar amid weak domestic equity market.
Meanwhile, caution has once again taken hold in global markets as investors weigh the effects of the pandemic. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 1.2 per cent and China’s Shanghai Composite shed 0.2 per cent. Benchmark indexes in Australia and South Korea were also in the negative territory, while Japan’s Nikkei bucked the trend, closing with a gain of over 2 per cent.
Ahead of an OPEC meeting with Russia tomorrow to discuss oil production cuts in response to plummeting demand and to deescalate a price war, the global benchmark, Brent Crude, was little changed at $31.91 a barrel.