In its worst show in four fiscals, the market benchmark Sensex on Thursday ended 2015-16 with a yearly plunge of 9.36 per cent, leaving investors poorer by nearly Rs 7 lakh crore as global headwinds and foreign fund outflows pounded domestic equities during the year.
For the day, however, the index inched up by 3.28 points to 25,341.86 on caution due to carry-forward of positions to the April series and S&P putting China on negative outlook.
Broader market, too, remained strong as mid-cap and small-cap indices ended higher by 0.68 per cent and 0.46 per cent, respectively.
In March, the Sensex registered a rise of 10.17 per cent or 2,339 points and Nifty climbed 10.75 per cent or 751.35 points, making it the biggest monthly gain in over four years.
Heavy crash in commodity prices, first rate hike by the US Federal Reserve in nearly a decade, global slowdown, especially in China, and slower pace of key domestic reforms pulled Sensex by 2,615.63 points or 9.36 per cent during the year, its worst performance in a fiscal since 2011-12.
Investor wealth too fell by nearly Rs 7 lakh crore during 2015-16 or over Rs 2,700 crore per trading session.
NSE's Nifty dropped by 752.60 points or 9.72 per cent during the year to settle the fiscal at 7,738.40.
The rupee, at 66.26, lost ground against the dollar as it weakened by Rs 3.61 or 5.86 per cent during 2015-16.
During the day, after surging 141 points in early trade, the 30-share Sensex frittered away most of initial gains and slipped into the negative zone to hit a low of 25,223.22 before bouncing back to close 3.28 points or 0.01 per cent higher at 25,341.86.
The index had soared 438.12 points on Wednesday, the biggest single-day gain in nearly a month, tracking firm global trend after US Federal Reserve softened its stance on rate hikes.
The broader Nifty after shuttling between 7,777.60 and 7,702.00, closed 3.20 points or 0.04 per cent up at 7,738.40.
In stock-specific action, Hindustan Zinc surged 4.77 per cent after the company announced it will pay highest ever dividend of Rs 10,141 crore, including Rs 3,000 crore to the government, to its shareholders for the 2015-16 fiscal.
Natco Pharma settled 4 per cent high after the company's board approved sale of 'Save Mart Pharmacy Stores' in the US, which is a non-core business of the firm.
Meanwhile, foreigners bought shares worth Rs 1,442.47 crore yesterday, as per provisional data.
Overseas, Asian markets witnessed a mixed trend with Shanghai composite and Taiwan up by 0.11 per cent and 0.09 per cent while Japan slipped 0.71 percent, Singapore dropped 0.31 per cent and Hong Kong down fell 0.13 per cent.
Europe opened lower with the UK's FTSE down 0.64 per cent, Germany's DAX 0.66 per cent lower and France's CAC shedding 1.16 per cent.
Moreover, in the first outflow of overseas funds from Indian capital markets in seven years, the foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) took out an estimated amount of Rs 18,000 crore during the fiscal 2015-16.
This is also only the third time since foreign portfolio investors began investing in Indian markets in 1992 that they have turned net sellers for an entire financial year.
As per the market data, the net outflow during the fiscal ending today would have been more than double this amount, but for the resumption in their buying spree in the last month.
The FPIs are estimated to have infused a net amount of nearly Rs 20,000 crore (about $3 billion) during March 2016.
For the day, out of 30-share Sensex pack, 14 scrips ended higher while 16 finished lower.
TCS surged 1.11 per cent followed by Infosys 1.01 per cent, Sun Pharma 0.97 per cent, HUL 0.79 per cent, Adani Ports 0.75 per cent, Dr Reddy's 0.72 per cent, Hero MotoCorp 0.72 per cent, HDFC Bank 0.60 per cent and ITC 0.41 per cent.
SBI took the biggest hit at 1.65 per cent followed by Bharti Airtel 1.53 per cent, Tata Steel (1.51 pc), Coal India (1.50 pc), Asian Paints (1.44 pc), ONGC (1.42 pc) and BHEL (0.96 pc).
Among BSE sectoral and industry indices, consumer durables rose 1.21 per cent followed by power 0.82 per cent, healthcare (0.66 pc), IT (0.66 pc), utilities (0.64 pc), teck (0.63 pc), FMCG (0.57 pc) and realty (0.25 pc).
The market breadth remained positive as 1,306 stocks ended higher, 1,247 closed lower while 187 ruled steady.
The total turnover rose to Rs 2,764.82 crore from Rs 2,545.99 cr on Wednesday.
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