Sensex loses 211 points; bank stocks plunge

Mumbai, July 24 (IANS) A day after it touched the highest level in two-and-half years, a benchmark index of Indian equities markets Wednesday fell 211 points on heavy selling in banking, capital goods, consumer durables and metal stocks.

The sentiment was bearish after the Reserve Bank of India Tuesday announced additional liquidity tightening measures to check the rupee's slide.

The 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the S&P Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), which opened at 20,200.20 points, closed at 20,090.68 points, down 211.45 points or 1.04 percent from the previous close of 20,302.13 points.

The Sensex touched a high of 20,252.70 points and a low of 19,994.25 points in the day's trade.

The wider 50-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) ended 1.44 percent or 87.30 points up at 5,990.50 points.

"Markets sold off sharply on the back of the fresh RBI measures. Banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) stocks sold off sharply. Even stocks of other sectors that are sensitive to interest rates witnessed selling pressure," said Sanjeev Zarbade, vice president, private client group research, Kotak Securities.

"In the next few days, the focus would be on the RBI monetary policy meeting."

The S&P BSE Bank index lost 591.83 points followed by capital goods index, down 1263.02 points, consumer durables index, up 205.83 points, metal index, down 157.50 points and automobile index, down 139.28 points.

However, the BSE information technology (IT) index was up 74.29 points and the technology, entertainment and media (TECk) index was up 41.24 points.

The major Sensex gainers were Bharti Airtel, up 2.18 percent at Rs.337.30; Wipro, up 2.02 percent at Rs.391.95; Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), up 1.87 percent at Rs.1,782.60; Sun Pharma, up 1.85 percent at Rs.1,127.60 and Cipla, up 1.68 percent at Rs.415.35.

The main Sensex losers were Jindal Steel, down 3.99 percent at Rs.201.95; Larsen and Toubro (L&T), down 3.93 percent at Rs.867.05; ICICI Bank, down 3.73 percent at Rs.952.85, HDFC Bank, down 3.40 percent at Rs.660.15 and State Bank of India (SBI), down 3.13 percent at Rs.1,802.90.

Shares of SpiceJet, India's second largest domestic carrier, lost 3.47 percent to Rs.26.45 from its previous close of Rs.27.40 following the resignation of the company's chief executive, Neil Mills.

Other Asian markets closed mixed, Japan's Nikkei closed Wednesday's trade down 0.32 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.24 percent and China's Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.52 percent.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100 was trading 0.78 percent up, Germany's DAX Index gained 0.79 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index was higher by 1.02 percent.