Trade war: Equities plunge to 5-month low, Nifty50 below 10k

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Mumbai, March 23: Key equity indices — NSE Nifty50 and BSE Sensex — receded to their 5-month low levels on Friday as investors got spooked after major world economies imposed new trade protectionist measures.

The global sell-off which impacted the Indian equity market was triggered after the US imposed new levies and tariffs on imports from China which in turn led to retaliatory actions by the Chinese government.

Besides fears over trade wars, a rise in crude oil prices pulled the the Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) below the 10,000-points-level. On a closing basis, the NSE Nifty50 declined by 116.70 points or 1.15 per cent to 9,998.05 points.

The barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE closed at 32,596.54 points — down 409.73 points or 1.24 per cent from the previous session’s close.

During the intra-day trade, the Sensex fell over 500 points to touch a low of 32,483.84 points.

The BSE market breadth was tilted towards the bears with 2,149 declines and 558 advances.

“Markets ended sharply lower on Friday. The weakness came triggered by the latest escalation in trade war between the two large global economies,” Deepak Jasani, Head – Retail Research, HDFC Securities, told IANS.

“The Nifty closed at its lowest level since October 11, 2017, while the Sensex closed at its lowest since October 23, 2017. In its upmove, the Nifty had closed above 10,000 points on July 26, 2017 and now it has closed below that level,” he added.

In terms of the broader markets, the S&P BSE mid cap index dipped by 1.36 per cent and the small cap index by 1.54 per cent.

According to Prateek Jain, Director at Hem Securities: “Global trade war tensions spooked investors today after US President Donald Trump ordered at least $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports and China announced plans for reciprocal tariffs on $3 billion of imports from the US.”

“Sentiment remained weak following weak clues from the global market. Overnight, US stocks fell sharply on Thursday, with major indices suffering their worst day in weeks as the threat of a trade war with China sparked a widespread sell-off. The market breadth, indicating the overall health of the market, was quite weak,” said Jain.

On the currency front, the Indian rupee strengthened by 10 paise at 65.01 against the US dollar from its previous close at 65.11.

In terms of investments, provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors purchased scrips worth Rs 1,628.19 crore, while the domestic institutional investors sold stocks worth Rs 935.41 crore.

“Volatility expanded and market is losing its grip due to escalating tensions of trade war and spike in oil prices,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.

“Market corrected 10 per cent from its peak while metal and PSU banks continue to be the laggards. We expect domestic chaos to stabilise as pressure of redemption will be over by the end of FY18 but pre-election volatility may take some time,” Nair added.

Almost all the sub-indices of the BSE ended in the red, barring the IT index (up 23.62 points) and Teck (technology, media and entertainment) index (up 20.61 points).

The S&P BSE banking index plunged by 562.95 points, followed by metal index by 388.51 points, capital goods index by 286.20 points, auto index by 203.77 points and healthcare index by 196.43 points.

Major Sensex gainers on Friday were: Adani Ports, up 0.99 per cent at Rs 361.70; Infosys, up 0.75 per cent at Rs 1167.45; Power Grid, up 0.54 per cent at Rs 194.25; Mahindra and Mahindra, up 0.47 per cent at Rs 733.25; and Coal India, up 0.09 per cent at Rs 269.25.

The Sensex losers were: Yes Bank, down 3.87 per cent at Rs 286.70; Axis Bank, down 3.34 per cent at Rs 501; State Bank of India, down 2.90 per cent at Rs 234.60; ICICI Bank, down 2.73 per cent at Rs 275.80; and Tata Steel, down 2.40 per cent at Rs 566.60.