Sensex slumps nearly 350 points; gains 4 pct in Sept

By Abhishek Vishnoi

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The BSE Sensex slumped nearly 2 percent on Monday as blue chips were hit by worries about the economy after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) raised interest rates earlier this month, while concerns about a likely U.S. government shutdown also weighed.

The rate hike by the RBI on September 20 cut short what had been a rally in domestic shares, although the BSE index still managed to gain 4.1 percent in September, its biggest monthly advance since November 2012.

Analysts say the RBI could raise interest rates again to curb inflation even as the Indian economy is growing at its slowest in a decade.

Also, U.S. lawmakers hardened their positions over the weekend, making passage of a stop-gap spending bill for the new fiscal year by midnight on Monday less likely. Government agencies and programmes deemed non-essential will begin closing their doors for the first time in 17 years in the United States.

"Amid global jitters, cement, steel and many other prices have gone up in India so chances of a further hike in rates are more than status quo," said G. Chokkalingam, managing director and chief investment officer at Centrum Wealth Management.

The benchmark BSE index slumped 1.76 percent, or 347.50 points, to end at 19,379.77. The broader NSE index fell 1.68 percent, or 97.90 points, to end at 5,735.30.

Both indexes gained in September.Nifty rose 4.8 percent for the month, helped by foreign buying of more than $2 billion in Indian shares in September, the first net monthly inflows since May, regulatory data showed.

The inflows came after a tough few months in which shares slumped, tracking the rupee that plumbed record lows.

Despite the monthly gains, the BSE index fell 1.8 percent for the July-September quarter.

Banking stocks fell on worries about higher non-performing loans and the possibility of the RBI raising rates one more time with its focus on inflation, dealers said.

ICICI Bank Ltd fell 4.3 percent, while HDFC Bank Ltd ended 2.6 percent lower.

Shares in steel companies fell on concerns that a lower-than-expected reading of China's PMI by HSBC may weigh on short-term prospects, dealers said.

Tata Steel Ltd slumped 5.5 percent, Steel Authority of India Ltd fell 2.4 percent, while JSW Steel Ltd ended 0.5 percent lower.

Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd (MCX) fell 5 percent, the maximum daily lower limit, after index provider MSCI excluded the Indian exchange operator from its small cap indices.

Reliance Infrastructure Ltd fell 5.6 percent after Crisil downgraded its rating on the company's debt programmes and long-term bank facilities to "A+/Negative" from "CRISIL AA-/Negative".

Drugmaker Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd rose 1.3 percent, while GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Ltd gained 2.5 percent after both were included in the National Stock Exchange's derivatives market.

Tech Mahindra Ltd rose 2.2 percent after UBS upgraded the shares to "buy" from "sell" and raised its target price to 1,650 rupees from 920 rupees, citing potential earnings upside and cheap valuations.

(Editing by Prateek Chatterjee)


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