Mumbai, Aug 21 (IANS) A benchmark index of Indian equities markets Wednesday closed below the 18,000-mark, its lowest levels in almost a year, as the rupee depreciated further and concerns over US stimulus programme marred sentiments.
The 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the S&P Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), which opened at 18,545.44 points, ended the day's trade at 17,905.91 points, down 340.13 points or 1.86 percent from the previous day's close at 18,246.04 points.
After an initial fillip in the pre-noon session, the Sensex ranged between a high of 18,567.70 points and a low of 17,807.19.
Wednesday's closing at 17,905.91 points is the lowest in 11 months.
The wider 50-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed the day's trade 98.90 points or 1.83 percent down at 5,302.55 points.
"The fall was led by selling in index heavyweights like L&T (Larsen and Toubro), Reliance, Infosys and ITC. This coincided with further weakness in the rupee as it touched a fresh record low of 64.49 against the US dollar," said Sanjeev Zarbade, vice president, Kotak Securities.
"The market is now awaiting the Fed meeting notes for fresh clues on when the central bank plans to taper its monthly bond purchases," he said.
The rupee, savaged by large dollar demands from banks and importers, plunged to new low for the fourth session in a row.
The partially-convertible rupee fell to 64.54 against a dollar at the inter-bank foreign exchange market here, surpassing its previous record low of 64.13 hit Tuesday.
The rupee closed at 64.11 against a dollar, down 1.35 percent from Tuesday's close of 63.25.
Almost all the stocks, except consumer durables and bank sectors, closed in red.
Selling pressure was observed in oil and gas, metal, healthcare, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and IT sectors; while only consumer durables and bank sectors were trading in green.
The S&P BSE oil and gas index plunged by 284.05 points, metal index slipped by 269.41 points, healthcare index dipped by 224.27 points, FMCG index went down by 201.11 points, automobile index was down 156.21 points and IT index closed 155.09 points lower.
However, BSE bank index was up 51.50 points followed by consumer durables index up 41.40 points.
Major Sensex gainers were: BHEL, up 3.15 percent at Rs.104.70; HDFC, up 2.83 percent at Rs.746.75, HDFC Bank, up 1.61 percent at Rs.593.65, Gail India, up 0.72 percent at Rs.299.55 and Tata Power, up 0.14 percent at Rs.73.70.
Major Sensex losers were: Bharti Airtel, down 6.31 percent at Rs.298.60; Sun Pharma, down 4.92 percent at Rs.482.50; Sterlite Inds, down 4.81 percent at Rs.79.20; ITC, down 4.80 percent at Rs.300.20; and Reliance Industries, down 4.72 percent at Rs.783.85.
Among the Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei closed 0.21 percent up, while China's Shanghai Composite Index was lower by 0.61 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.02 percent.
In Europe, London's FTSE 100 was trading 0.55 percent down, while Germany's DAX Index fell 0.12 percent. The French CAC 40 Index was lower by 0.08 percent.