US rate hike fears hit mkts as Sensex,Nifty fall most in 7 wks

US rate hike fears hit mkts as Sensex,Nifty fall most in 7 wks

In their worst single-day drop in nearly 7 weeks, Sensex plunged 324 points to 26,492.51 and Nifty tanked 109 points to 7,932.90 on negative cues from jittery global markets before the US Federal Reserve's much-awaited monetary policy meeting that starts later today.

An earlier-than-anticipated rate hike by Fed could lead to outflows, hurting emerging markets as the incentive for investors to seek higher yields stands reduced. Major markets in Asia ended down and Europe was weak in morning trades.

Domestic investors also took money off the table in recent out-performers in sectors including realty, banking, consumer durables and oil & gas. All the 12 BSE sectoral indices ended in the red.

Smallcap and midcap stocks, which in previous sessions had bucked a weak trend, saw a huge sell-off with their indices falling over 3 per cent each.

The 30-share Sensex after resuming higher at 26,854.90, improved to 26,861.29. However, it succumbed to widespread selling in blue-chips and slipped to day's low of 26,464.03, before ending at 26,492.51 -- down 324.05 points, or 1.21 per cent. This is its worst drop since August 1 when Sensex had plummeted 414.13 points. Today's closing is also its weakest since August 26 (26,442.81).

Among major laggards, Tata Power suffered the most by plunging 5.85 per cent. Others include Tata Steel, Hindalco, NTPC, Tata Motors, ONGC, RIL, GAIL, SBI, Axis Bank and L&T.

Bucking the trend, stocks of Dr Reddy, Bharti Airtel, ITC, Mahindra and Mahindra and Infosys gained.

The 50-share Nifty dropped 109.10 points, or 1.36 per cent, to close below 8,000 mark at 7,932.90 after moving between 8,044.90 and 7,925.15 intra-day. Today's drop is also Nifty's worst show since August 1 when it fell 118.70 points.

"Market players will be looking for clues on the timing of the first US rate hike in more than eight years. Consensus is that the Fed will hike interest rates next year and it may declare the timelines today," said HDFC Securities in a note.

Sectorally, the BSE Realty sector index suffered the most by losing 3.42 per cent, followed by Power down 3.26 per cent, Capital Goods 2.70 per cent and Oil & Gas 2.67 per cent.

Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) sold shares worth a net Rs 74.59 crore yesterday as per provisional data. issued by stock exchanges.

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