Sensex slumps 536 pts; financial stocks lead fall

Equity benchmark Sensex tumbled 536 points on Friday, led by a selloff in financial and IT stocks as global markets slumped on mounting economic pressure of coronavirus-led lockdowns with no respite in sight.

Further, in a blow to domestic market sentiment, Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund announced winding up of six debt schemes due to redemption pressure and lack of liquidity in bond markets amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Many retail investors and high net worth individuals (HNIs) who invested in these schemes as part of their fixed-income asset allocation will be hit as the money will be blocked with no clear timeline for recoveries, experts said.

The 30-share BSE Sensex settled 535.86 points or 1.68 per cent down at 31,327.22, while the NSE Nifty declined 159.50 points, or 1.71 per cent, to 9,154.40.

Bajaj Finance was the top laggard in the Sensex pack, dropping over 9 per cent, followed by Axis Bank, IndusInd Bank, HDFC, ICICI Bank and M&M.

Reliance Industries, however, capped the losses by rallying over 3 per cent.

Sun Pharma, Hero MotoCorp, L&T, PowerGrid and Bajaj Auto were also among the gainers.

Market went into selloff mode as winding up of a few debt schemes by Franklin Templeton added to the selling pressure witnessed in banks and NBFC stocks, said experts.

According to Sanjeev Zarbade, VP PCG Research, Kotak Securities, markets across the globe remained volatile as the wait for a credible breakthrough in medicine to remedy the COVID-19 pandemic remained elusive.

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Weak macroeconomic data in most countries and rout in oil prices also hit investor sentiment, he noted.

Bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul ended with heavy losses, while those in Europe were also trading significantly lower in early deals.

Global oil benchmark Brent crude futures slipped 0.38 per cent to USD 21.25 per barrel.

On the currency front, the rupee depreciated 40 paise to provisionally settle at 76.46 against the US dollar.

The death toll due to the pandemic rose to 718 in India, while the number of cases climbed to 23,077.

Global tally of the infections has crossed 27 lakh, with over 1.90 lakh deaths.

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