Caught in a veritable bear-hug, the benchmark Sensex tumbled 208 points on Tuesday as the State Bank of India (SBI) posted its lowest quarterly earnings in a decade, amid concerns that the fuel subsidy burden of oil companies may go up.
The 30-share Bombay Stock Exchange barometer, which shed 186.25 points in the previous session, fell further by 207.68 points to 18,137.35 on Tuesday amid a weakening global trend. Shares of State Bank of India registered their sharpest decline in two years following a steep fall in fourth quarter profit on account of higher provisioning against bad loans.
The Sensex has declined 12 per cent this year on concerns that higher borrowing costs will hurt corporate earnings. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently raised interest rates by half a percentage point to their highest level since July 2008, at 7.25 per cent.
In a similar fashion, the broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty plunged 60.05 points to 5,438.95, after touching an intra-day low of 5,421.05.
Brokers said the market is trapped in a bear-hug on negative factors, such as a fall in quarter earnings, rising concerns over inflation after a fuel price hike and melting world stock markets.
They said the quarterly earnings reported by the country's largest state-run lender SBI, came as a strong blow to the market, which sent banking stocks tumbling down. In addition, refinery and oil exloring companies have come under increasing pressure over fuel subsidy concerns.
Shares of SBI tanked Rs 203.70 to Rs 2,413.60, the largest decline since July 2009, after the banker's net income plunged 99 per cent for the three months ended March, as provisioning against bad loans and taxes rose drastically.
Even before SBI's announcement, the market was in selling mode, with rising fuel prices raising inflationary concerns and prompting speculation that the RBI will further hike interest rates at its next meeting in June.
The firm with the most weight in the 30-share Sensex pack, Reliance Industries, fell Rs 23.90 to Rs 920.40, while the second-most weighted company, Infosys, slid Rs 5.80 to Rs 2,843.95.
The two companies account for nearly 23 per cent of the total weight of the index. ONGC, the largest oil producer and an index-related stock, also dropped Rs 19.95 to Rs 277.55.
Oil India, another state-run explorer, fell Rs 66.80 to Rs 1,289.20, its biggest drop since listing in September 2009, while gas transportation major Gail India lost Rs 17.65 to Rs 433.
A weakening trend in the Asian region and a lower opening in Europe further influenced the market sentiment. Emerging market stocks fell, driving the index to its lowest level in almost two months as Greece sought more bailout funds and US data fuelled concern the global economic recovery may falter.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index lost 4.19 points to 1,132.47.
The oil and gas sector index suffered the most, shedding 3.23 per cent to 9,361.48, followed by the banking index, which lost 2.24 per cent to 12,162.80. The auto sector index fell 1.02 per cent to 9,058.95 and the capital goods index by 0.63 per cent to 12,547.49.