Sensex closes half percent down, consumer durables, bank stocks plummet

Mumbai, Feb 5 (IANS) A benchmark index for Indian equities markets Tuesday fell nearly half a percent -- its lowest level since Jan 1 -- as consumer durables, bank and metal stocks saw heavy selling.

The 30-scrip Sensex, which opened at 19,665.54 points, closed at 19,659.82 points, down 91.37 points or 0.46 percent from its previous close at 19,751.19 points.

The Sensex touched an intra-day high of 19,717.26 points and a low of 19,631.97 points. The midcap index was down 45.88 points, while the smallcap index was lower by 71.06 points.

The wider 50-scrip S&P CNX Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed lower by 30.35 points or 0.51 percent at 5,956.90 points.

There was heavy selling in consumer durables, bank and metal stocks. However, healthcare stocks rallied.

Major indices like the consumer durables index was down 120.21 points followed by the bank index, down 87.24 points, metal index, down 76.82 points.

The healthcare index was up 68.40 points.

The major Sensex gainers were Sun Pharma, up 4.06 percent at Rs.747.30; Gail India, up 1.64 percent at Rs.344.45; Bajaj Auto, up 1.49 percent at Rs.2,091.90; Cipla, up 1.18 percent at Rs.407.50; and State Bank of India (SBI), up 0.57 percent at Rs.2,365.20.

Twenty of the 30 Sensex scrips declined. These included BHEL, down 3.19 percent at Rs.212.20; Bharti Airtel, down 1.93 percent at Rs.324.55; Sterlite Inds, down 1.73 percent at Rs.107.80; Tata Motors, down 1.64 percent at Rs.287.05; and ITC, down 1.58 percent at Rs.302.05.

Among other Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei was down 1.90 percent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended 2.27 percent lower. China's Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.20 percent up.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.66 percent, while the German DAX was trading 0.19 percent higher. The French CAC 40 was up 1.02 percent.

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