The equity markets started off on a cautious note in New year 2018, as a late sell-off in auto, banking and IT shares pulled back the Sensex from record high level on Friday to close down by 244 points, registering its biggest single loss in past one month, on the first trading day of 2018.
According to brokers, investors preferred to book profits at record highs amid concerns over fiscal slippages and rising crude oil prices and absence of cues from global markets which were closed for the New Year holiday. Sensex touched a low of 33,766.15 before settling lower by 244.08 points, or 0.72%, at 33,812.75. This is the biggest single-day fall since December 1 when the index had lost 316.41.
The 30-share index had closed at an all-time high of 34,056.83 in the last session of 2017 on Friday. In case of Nifty, the 50-share index fell below the 10,500-mark to hit a low of 10,423.10 before settling 95.15 points, or 0.90% down at 10,435.55. Shares opened on a weak note and remained range-bound, and an intense sell-off in the last hour of the trade dragged the key indices deep down, PTI reported brokers as saying.
Stocks which lost include HDFC Ltd, Tata Steel, ONGC, Adani Ports, ICICI Bank, Reliance Industries, Asian Paint, HDFC Bank, SBI, Kotak Bank and Yes Bank, dropping by up to 1.35%. Auto stocks such as Tata Motors, Bajaj Auto, M&M, Maruti Suzuki and Hero MotoCorp too came under pressure and lost up to 1.35% after December sales data failed to cheer investors. Maruti reported a 10 per cent rise in December sales.
“Despite positive auto sales numbers, market started-off the New Year on a cautious note. Lingering concern on fiscal slippages and a sharp up-move in crude prices dampened investor sentiments. Additionally, an expectation of weak monthly manufacturing data tomorrow is adding to the cautiousness,” Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services Ltd told PTI.
In contrast, investors indulged in widening their portfolios in the second-line stocks which outperformed the key indices. Small-cap and mid-cap indices closed with gains of 0.26 per cent and 0.08 per cent, respectively.
Globally, most stock markets, including those in Asia and Europe, were closed today.
“The inaugural trading day of the new calendar year began on a flat note in absence of its major global peers. Subsequently, we saw consolidation within a slender range for the major part of the session. However, a sharp decline in last 45 minutes of the trade dragged the index significantly lower to conclude the session with nearly a percent cut,” Angel Broking said in a note.