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Late selling pulls down Sensex by 118 points


MUMBAI: The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark index, Sensex, fell by 118 points on Wednesday to 18178.33 in late sell-off in banking, IT and realty stocks amid concerns that rising oil prices due to unrest in the Middle East will stoke inflation, leading to hike in interest rates.

The BSE 30-share barometer initially moved in a narrow range till late mid-session, ahead of the expiry of February derivatives contract series on Thursday. However, fag-end off-loading pulled down the Sensex to 18178.33, a net fall of 117.83 points. On Tuesday, it had lost 142.15 points.

Similarly, the NSE 50-share Nifty dropped further by 31.85 points to 5437.35.

Surging global Brent crude oil prices to about $108 a barrel, already at over two-year high, following turbulence in Libya — spreading to other key oil producing countries in the nearby North African region — created anxiety over disruption in supplies. Overall, it has led to fears of inflationary pressures and apprehensions of interest rate hikes across Asia and other regions, which could stall economic growth.

Sharp fall in SBI, Infosys, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, ITC, Tata Power, TCS and BHEL kept the market under pressure. However, rise in RIL, Reliance Infra, Reliance Communications, HDFC and Hero Honda cushioned the fall. Top heavyweight Reliance Industries, closed up by 1.15 per cent at Rs. 996.35 after gaining nearly 3 per cent on Tuesday on news of its $7.2 billion deal with BP, supporting the market to an extent. Reliance Infrastructure, an Anil Dhirubhai Group (ADAG) company, was the top gainer from the Sensex pack and closed with sharp rise of 12.24 per cent at Rs. 698.05. Two-wheeler giant Hero Honda gained by 5.45 per cent to Rs.1,468.55 Foreign institutional investors once again started to pull out from equities as they sold shares worth Rs.386.26 crore on Tuesday as per provisional data. Marketmen said the next major trigger for stock markets would be the announcement of Union Budget on February 28. — PTI

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