Share prices in India fell to their lowest levels so far this year on Monday, following a sell-off in global markets, crude oil inching closer to the $140 mark over the weekend, and amid talk it would touch $150/barrel sooner rather than later.
US markets fell sharply on Friday, and Asia followed suit Monday, as concerns about the health of the US economy resurfaced after data showed unemployment increased. But stocks on Dalal Street were the worst performers across the globe as domestic concerns weighed and talk of Indian markets in a 'bear phase' spooked participants.
Even longer-term investors, already rattled by last week's slide, were quick to liquidate positions, following a similar pattern among foreign institutions.
"Indian investors get weak in the knees when FIIs start selling. The fundamentals are not the same as they were a few months back, and people are starting to believe the bear phase is actually here. We are largely under performing other markets because our economy is comparatively more sensitive to the rise in oil," said Viral Doshi, independent technical and derivatives analyst.
"I think the selling will continue. I don't expect to see any support coming in before Nifty reaches 4300 - the 38.2% retracement level from the January 2008 high to the March 2003 bottom," Doshi added.
National Stock Exchange's Nifty closed at 4500.95, down 127 points or 2.74 per cent from Friday's close. Intraday, it fell to a low of 4411.60--also the low so far in 2008.
Bombay Stock Exchange's Sensex plunged 506 points or 3.25 per cent to 15,066.10, off the low of 14,846.18. The high was 15,202.74.
Mid-and small-cap stocks were not spared either. BSE Mid-cap and Small-cap indices ended down 2.83 per cent and 3.63 per cent, respectively.
Ranbaxy Laboratories (up 3.87%), Reliance Communications (1.34%), Hindalco Industries (0.2%) were the only gainers in the 30-share Sensex.
Among the index losers, Jaiparakash Associates (down 8.65%), DLF (7.39%), ONGC (7.02%), HDFC (5.99%), Reliance Infrastructure (5.65%) and Wipro (4.85%) were severely beaten down.
Realty stocks were hit the hardest as increasing probability of a slowdown in the sector, rising input costs and little chances of interest rate softening weighed on sentiment.
Being a high-beta sector, when the overall market sentiment is weak, real estate stocks tend to perform very poorly, said analysts tracking real estate sector.
BSE Realty Index shed a massive 7.38 per cent with industry leaders DLF hitting a life low of Rs 475 and Unitech plunging to 52-week low of Rs 183.05. Other realty counters Akruti City (6.72%), Anant Raj Industries (5.55%), Ansal Infrastructure (8.1%), HDIL (8.81%) and Indiabulls Realty (6.06%) were also beaten down.
BSE Healthcare Index edged higher in the afternoon as investors chose to place their bets on the defensive sector. Ranbaxy rose 3.87 per cent sending the BSE Healthcare Index up 0.53 per cent. Other sectoral gainers comprised Lupin Laboratories (8.05%), Nicholas Piramal (up 2.89%) and Sun Pharmaceuticals (2.72%).