Monday meltdown: Covid-19 scare cracks equities

Many analysts had predicted this correction, as overvalued stock markets were waiting for a trigger to crash
Last Updated 21 December 2020, 20:11 IST

Indian benchmark equity indices -- Sensex and Nifty -- tumbled on Monday by over 3% each as panic selling gripped stock markets across the globe on fears of new deadly strain of the Coronavirus found in the United Kingdom.

The 30-share benchmark BSE Sensex opened flat in the morning, but with European markets opening in deep red, the jitters were felt in India. At one point, Sensex was down by over 2,000 points. The index closed the day's trade at 45,553.96, down 1,406.73 points (3%).

Similarly, the broader index -- 50-share NSE Nifty -- after a muted start to the day, closed at 13,328.40, down 432.15 points (3.14%).

"Fresh concerns over the spread of coronavirus in UK and Europe dragged the Indian market that lost over 3% on Monday. The new strain of coronavirus in the UK has led to correction across European markets. Parts of Asia like Hong Kong is also considering measures such as curfews and shutdowns to tame the virus," said Jaideep Hansraj, MD & CEO, Kotak Securities.

During the mayhem, the equity investors in India lost about Rs 6.5 lakh crore in a day. Among the sectoral indices, the banks were the worst hit with Nifty PSU Bank Index crashing 6.93% during the day.

In the broader market, the BSE mid-cap and small-cap indices tanked up to 4.57%.

All BSE sectoral indices also closed lower, with metal, oil and gas, utilities, realty, basic materials, industrials, power and bankex falling as much as 6.05%.

At the BSE, 2,433 companies declined, while 592 advanced and 167 remained unchanged.

Global bloodbath

In far-eastern markets, bourses in Hong Kong and Tokyo ended in the red, while Shanghai and Seoul settled with mild gains. On the other hand, most of the exchanges across Europe were trading in red at the time of filing this copy.

With over 3% loss in the trading session, Indian markets were one of the worst hit across the globe, with only Thai, Polish, Russian, Austrian and Portuguese exchanges performing worse.

Foreign investors spooked

As there are fears that new strain may render the coronavirus vaccine useless, global investors played safe. The foreign funds broke their 33-trading session buying spree in the Indian markets as they ended up net sellers worth Rs 323.55 crore.

The sell-off by the foreign funds had adverse impact on the domestic currency as well. The rupee plunged by 23 paise to end at a two-week low of 73.79 against the US dollar.

At the interbank forex market, the domestic unit opened lower at 73.74 against the greenback. It swung between a low of 73.81 and a high of 73.63 during the session, before settling the day at 73.79.

Many analysts had predicted this correction, as overvalued stock markets were waiting for a trigger to crash.

(Published 21 December 2020, 15:19 IST)

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