Markets end lower for 4th straight session amid heavy fluctuations

     Mumbai, Apr 18 (PTI) Equity benchmark indices Sensex and Nifty extended their losing streak to the fourth straight session and settled lower on Thursday amid heavy volatility triggered by selling in banking stocks and unabated outflow of foreign funds.
     Fading expectations of an immediate interest rate cut by the US Federal Reserve as well as escalating geopolitical tensions also dampened investors' sentiment.
     The 30-share BSE Sensex declined abruptly post noon, reflecting heavy fluctuations, wiping out all its early gains. It tanked 454.69 points or 0.62 per cent to settle at 72,488.99. During the day, it gyrated 1,107.38 points between the day's high and low.
     The benchmark quoted 73,135.5 at 13:31 hours but within two minutes it declined to 72,817.03 at 13.34 hours, reflecting a drop of 318.47 points.
     The NSE Nifty declined 152.05 points or 0.69 per cent to 21,995.85. It hit a high of 22,326.50 and a low of 21,961.70 during the day.
     From the Sensex basket, Nestle declined the most by over 3 per cent amid reports that the global FMCG major sold infant milk products with more sugar content in less developed countries.
     Titan Company, Axis Bank, NTPC, Tata Motors, ITC, Tech Mahindra, Bajaj Finserv, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Bajaj Finance were the other laggards.
     Bharti Airtel, Power Grid, Infosys and Larsen & Toubro were among the gainers.
     "Domestic benchmarks extended losses amid mixed sentiments, emerged from escalating geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, and as hopes of US rate cuts waned. Meanwhile, investors will closely monitor the Q4 outcomes for further directions," said Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services.
     In the broader market, the BSE midcap gauge declined 0.39 per cent while smallcap index went up marginally by 0.06 per cent.
     Among the indices, consumer durables declined 1.52 per cent, oil & gas (0.96 per cent), auto (0.73 per cent), realty (0.70 per cent), consumer discretionary (0.54 per cent) and commodities (0.39 per cent).
     Telecommunication and teck were the gainers.
     Arvinder Singh Nanda, Senior Vice President, Master Capital Services Ltd, attributed the decline in key indices to the outflow of funds "as investors opted to secure profits following an early rise, amidst mounting geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.
     "Moreover, there is a growing expectation of a delay in the US interest rate cut due to persistent inflation concerns, which are further exacerbated by the rising crude oil prices. Additionally, the fourth quarter results of major heavyweights such as Infosys also prompted investors to cover their profitable long positions," he said.
     According to Pravesh Gour, Senior Technical Analyst, Swastika Investmart Ltd, various factors like geopolitical tensions, uncertainty about central bank policies, or swings in commodity prices "might have influenced market sentiment".
     In Asian markets, Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Hong Kong settled in the positive territory.
     European markets were trading mostly with gains. Wall Street ended lower on Wednesday.
     Global oil benchmark Brent crude declined 0.63 per cent to USD 86.74 a barrel.
     Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) offloaded equities worth Rs 4,260.33 crore on Thursday, according to exchange data.
     "Markets witnessed frenzied selling towards the closing stages in a highly volatile trading session, as concerns over fading rate cut hopes and persisting FII fund exodus from local stocks dampened investors' sentiment.
     "Even as the Indian economy has been resilient and managed to dodge global worries, worries of stubborn inflation, rising instances of geopolitical tensions and delay in interest rate cut has fuelled profit-taking," said Prashanth Tapse, Senior VP (Research), Mehta Equities Ltd.
     Stock markets were closed on Wednesday for Ram Navami.
     The 30-share BSE benchmark tanked 456.10 points or 0.62 per cent to settle at 72,943.68 on Tuesday. The NSE Nifty declined 124.60 points or 0.56 per cent to finish at 22,147.90.

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)