The Sensex plunged by over 550 points and Nifty neared the 10,600 mark as traders were cautious ahead of the results of Assembly elections in five states. Benchmark equity indices cracked for the third consecutive session Thursday on negative global cues, weak rupee and sustained selling by foreign as well as domestic institutional investors.
Weakness in Asian equities was also a key factor for the fall. Global investor sentiment was weak as the chances of peaceful trade negotiations between the US and China dimmed on news that Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou had been held in Canada and faces extradition to the United States over alleged Iran sanctions breaches by the firm.
The BSE Sensex plunged 572.28 points, or 1.59 per cent, to close at 35,312.13. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty fell 181.75 points, or 1.69 per cent, to 10,601.15. All sectoral indices on the BSE and NSE ended in the red, led by metal, oil and gas, pharma and financial stocks.
According to analysts, global markets were in a risk-off mode due to fresh flare-up of tensions between China and the US. Oil prices are inching up on expectation of production cuts by Russia and Opec, weakening rupee further.
The rupee was trading 36 paise lower at 70.82 against the US dollar intra-day. The currency fell to an intra-day low of 71 per dollar mark amid strengthening American currency and weak domestic equity market.
Oil prices extended losses ahead of the crucial Opec meeting. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was trading 1.82 per cent lower at USD 59.74 per barrel.
Top losers in the session included Maruti, Tata Motors, Reliance Industries, Yes Bank, Adani Ports, Bharti Airtel, Asian Paints, ONGC, HUL, Kotak Bank, IndusInd Bank and Axis Bank, falling up to 5 per cent. Sun Pharma was the sole gainer on the Sensex, rising 1.57 per cent.
On a net basis, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) sold shares worth Rs 357.82 crore Wednesday, and domestic institutional investors (DIIs) were net sellers to the tune of Rs 791.59 crore, provisional data available with BSE showed.
Elsewhere in Asia, Korea's Kospi fell 1.55 per cent, Japan's Nikkei dropped 1.91 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 2.47 per cent and Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.68 per cent.
In Europe, Frankfurt's DAX shed 2.36 per cent and Paris' CAC 40 fell 2.21 per cent in early deals. London's FTSE too slipped 2.50 per cent.