Sensex closes half a percent down; bank, oil and gas stocks plummet

Mumbai, April 26 (IANS) A benchmark index of the Indian equities markets Friday closed more than half a percent down, snapping four days of gains, after banks, oil and gas and technology stocks tanked.

The 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) closed at 19,286.72 points, down 0.62 percent or 120.13 points from its previous day’s close at 19,406.85 points, mostly due to profit booking and lower than expected yearly results.

The index touched a high of 19,834.95 points and a low of 19,249.75 points in intra-day trade on Friday.

The Sensex had risen Thursday by 227 points on interest rate cut hopes from the Reserve Bank of India in early next month.

The wider 50-scrip S&P CNX Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed Friday’s trade 0.76 percent or 44.85 points down at 5,871.45 points.

There was heavy selling pressure due to profit booking in bank, oil and gas, metal, information technology (IT) and health care.

The BSE bank index ended 201.57 points lower, followed by oil and gas index, down 142.49 points, the metal index, down 121.57 percent, IT index, down 86.13 points, and health care index, down 69.22 points.

However, there was healthy buying in interest-sensitive stocks like automobile and capital goods.

The automobile index was up 90.50 points and the capital goods index closed higher by 27.85 points.

Of the 30 sensitive stocks on the BSE, 11 closed the day’s trade in positive territory. These included Maruti Suzuki, which jumped 5.26 percent at Rs.1,673.45; Bharti Airtel, up 4.55 percent at Rs.318.40; Bajaj Auto, up 3.09 percent at Rs.1,893.15; Gail India, up 1.78 percent at Rs.350.80; and Larsen and Toubro (L&T), up 1.52 percent at Rs.1,541.80.

The major Sensex losers were Jindal Steel, down 4.29 percent at Rs.314.70, Reliance Industries, down 3.19 percent at Rs.793.15; ICICI Bank, down 2.82 percent at Rs.1,144.30; Hindustan Unilever, down 2.70 percent at Rs.465.15; and Tata Steel, down 2.46 percent at Rs.304.85.

Among other Asian markets, Japan’s Nikkei closed 0.65 percent higher and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng went down by 0.03 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index closed lower by 0.97 percent.

In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 was trading 0.50 percent lower and so was German DAX, down 0.32 percent. The French CAC 40 was also ruling 0.80 percent down at closing bell here.

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