The Indian equity benchmarks closed at their lowest in four months as spread of Omicron variant of Coronavirus rattled investors’ sentiment. Spread of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron has stoked fears of stagflation, analysts said. Stagflation is a scenario with rising inflation and stagnant or declining economic growth due to the spread of Omicron and expectations of lockdowns. The Sensex fell as much as 1,879 points, its biggest single day fall since February 26 and Nifty tumbled below its important psychological level of 16,450 to hit an intraday low of 16,410.
The Sensex fell 1,190 points or 2.09 per cent to close at 55,822 and Nifty 50 index dropped 372 points or 2.2 per cent to settle at 16,614.
Markets fell across the globe as surging Omicron Covid-19 cases triggered tighter curbs in Europe and threatened to swamp the global economy into the New Year. The spread of Omicron saw the Netherlands go into lockdown on Sunday and put pressure on others to follow, though the United States seemed set to remain open.
Back home, selling pressure was visible across the board as all the 15 sector gauges compiled by the National Stock Exchange ended lower led by the Nifty Realty index’s 5 per cent fall. Nifty PSU Bank, Metal, Private Bank, Media, Financial Services, Auto and Bank indices also fell between 2.5-4.5 per cent.
Broader markets also succumbed to selling pressure as Nifty Midcap 100 index dropped 3.7 per cent and Nifty Smallcap 100 index fell 4 per cent.
Among the individual shares, Shriram Properties made a weak stock market debut, the stock opened for trading at Rs 94, marking a discount of 20 per cent from issue price of Rs 118.
Forty seven out of 50 shares in the Nifty 50 basket ended lower led by Bharat Petroleum Corp’s 6.5 per cent decline. Tata Motors, Tata Steel, IndusInd Bank, Bajaj Finance, Coal India, Indian Oil, State Bank of India, ONGC, Hindalco, Shree Cement, Adani Ports and HDFC Life also fell 3.35-5.2 per cent.
On the flipside, Cipla, Hindustan Unilever and Dr Reddy’s Labs were among the notable gainers in the Nifty 50 index.
The overall market breadth was extremely negative as 2,698 shares ended lower while 747 ended higher on the BSE.