The benchmark indices fell more than a per cent for a fifth day in a row as foreign portfolio investors (FPI) intensified their selling ahead of the Budget on Monday.
A sharp fall in the US markets on Wednesday and weak opening in other Asian markets weighed on sentiment of domestic investors causing the Sensex to drop nearly 900 points in intra-day trade. The Sensex ended at 46,874.4, down 535 points, or 1.1 per cent whereas the Nifty fell 150 points, or 1.07 per cent, to end the session at 13,817.
“Markets have turned cautious after the unidirectional upside of the last 10 months. Ambiguity ahead of the budget and profit booking in the global market has curtailed the enthusiasm. Global risk parameters have increased despite the US Fed maintaining its supportive policy,” said Vinod Nair, head of research, Geojit Financial Services.
FPIs sold over $500-million shares, taking their four-day selling tally close to the $1-billion mark. Domestic institutional investors bought shares worth Rs 1,736 crore.
“Markets may see a breather on Friday after the recent slide, but volatility would remain high. Considering the prevailing scenario and Budget, we suggest continuing with hedged positions and preferring index majors over others,” said Ajith Mishra, vice-president (research), Religare Broking.
HUL ended with a loss of 3.6 per cent. Maruti Suzuki fell 3.5 per cent, HDFC Bank, Powergrid, Kotak Mahindra Bank, IndusInd Bank, HCL Tech, and Bajaj Finserv fell more than 2 per cent.
Realty and IT stocks fell the most, and their gauges fell 2.07 per cent and 1.9 per cent, respectively.