The BSE Sensex continued to trade lower in the afternoon trade, tracking losses across most of the global markets. Most Asian stock markets fell on Thursday as investors worried that support measures for the fragile global economy will be withdrawn too quickly. European markets were also lower in early trade.
The Sensex was down 130 points at 16,588, with Sterlite Ind, Hindalco and Infosys down between 2.5 per cent and 4 per cent. IT, metal, auto and realty stocks were under pressure. Among the few Sensex gainers, Bharti, NTPC and HDFC Bank were up over 2 per cent.
The declines across most of the global markets came after the Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged at a regular meeting in Washington Wednesday, as widely expected, and said the pace of economic activity has "picked up" since its last meeting in August. But the Fed also said it would again slow some of its purchases of mortgage-backed securities, which have been part of the extraordinary support the central bank has given the U.S. economy over the past year.
Investors have focused on when central bankers and governments will begin to unwind some of the measures they have taken to boost the global economy since the onset of the global financial crisis one year ago.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was Asia's biggest loser, falling 592.98, or 2.8 per cent to 20,102.54. South Korea's Kospi declined 24.56, or 1.4 percent, to 1,686.91.
Most other markets also lost ground, including China's Shanghai index, which fell 1.4 per cent, and Australia's benchmark, down 0.8 per cent.
Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average, closed for the first three days of this week due to a string of national holidays, was Asia's biggest bright spot, gaining 89.32, or 0.9 per cent, 10,459.86. In New York on Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 81.32, or 0.8 per cent, to 9,748.55. Broader indices also declined.
Oil prices were lower in Asia after falling nearly 4 per cent on Wednesday after an unexpected jump in US crude inventories suggested consumer demand remains in the doldrums. Benchmark crude for November delivery was down 64 cents at $68.33.