Benchmark indices snapped three-day gaining streak amid weak Asian cues and a record surge in Covid -19 cases (1.31 lakh) in the last 24 hours. Sensex ended 154.89 points or 0.31 per cent lower at 49,59 and Nifty slipped 38.95 points or 0.26 per cent to 14,834. On Thursday, benchmark indices ended higher in choppy trade as rising coronavirus cases and restrictions across the country kept investors on the edge. Sensex closed 84.45 points higher at 49,661 and Nifty gained 54 points to 14,873.
In today's trade, Bajaj Finance, Ultratech Cement , NTPC and Axis Bank were the top Sensex losers falling up to 3.12%.
Top Sensex gainers were Sun Pharma, HUL, Tech Mahindra and Dr Reddy's rallying up to 3.69 per cent.
Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services said, "Domestic markets traded in a mild negative territory following weak global cues and increasing covid cases. Fall in the market was led by the private banks as concerns on their asset quality spiked with increasing restrictions across states. Buying interest was seen in PSU Banks in hopes of finalisation of potential privatisation candidates. On the sectoral front, pharma stocks were the top gainers while broader markets continued to perform well."
Financial stocks witnessed profit booking with BSE bankex slipping 304 points to 36,770. Bank Nifty lost 334 points to 32,448.
Top sectoral gainers were pharma stocks with the BSE healthcare index rising 514 points to 22,724 on expectations that the sector will benefit from rising demand for coronavirus vaccines and medicines. Of 19 BSE sectoral indices, 17 closed in the red. Meanwhile, BSE midcap index ended lower by 15.64 points and small cap index higher by 147 points.
Investor wealth increased by Rs 0.19 lakh crore as market cap of BSE listed firms rose to Rs 209.63 lakh crore in trade today against Rs 209.44 lakh crore in the previous session.
Market breadth was positive with 1,656 stocks rising against 1,249 falling on BSE. Total 173 stocks were unchanged. Meanwhile, the rupee fell for the fifth straight session and closed 15 paise lower at 74.73 (provisional) against the US dollar. Rising COVID-19 cases, weak domestic equities and strengthening American currency weighed on investors' sentiment. On Thursday, the rupee had ended at 74.58 against the American currency. In the last five sessions, the Indian currency has plunged 161 paise.