Mumbai: Tracking weak global trends, the BSE benchmark Sensex on Thursday fell by 213.97 to close below the 19,000 mark after nearly two months on sustained selling by foreign funds, mainly in the auto sector, even as Finance Minister P Chidambaram said more reforms are on the anvil.
Extending losses for the third straight session, the 30-share index commenced the day on a weak note at 18,815.57 and plunged further to close down by 213.97 points, or 1.12 per cent, at 18,827.16. This is the first time since April 17 that the Sensex has closed below 19,000 level at 18,731.16.
Similarly, broad-based National Stock Exchange Nifty settled lower by 61.10 points, or 1.06 per cent, at 5,699.10. Also, MCX-SX flagship index, SX40, ended 102.23 points lower, or 0.91 per cent, at 11,179.36.
Ratings agency Fitch raising India's economic outlook to 'stable' from 'negative' has not managed to boost market sentiments.
Brokers said the market sentiment was hampered by reports of a weakening trend in all global markets as investors speculated this year's rally has overshot the earnings outlook amid concern that central banks may pare stimulus measures.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said the government will announce host of decisions, including relaxation of FDI caps and resolution of gas and coal prices, in the next few days. "I am looking forward to more reforms... I expect a number of decision in the next few days and weeks... In June, you can expect number of decisions taken and implemented that will accelerate reforms and spur investments in critical sectors," Chidambaram said.
Out of the 30-BSE index components, 25 stocks declined led by drop in Tata Motors and Mahindra and Mahindra. Amid other major losers, Apollo Tyres fell by 25.43 per cent to Rs 68.60 after the company said it will take over US-based Cooper Tire & Rubber Co in an all-cash deal valued at about Rs 14,500 crore (USD 2.5 billion).
Also Sun Pharma extended a five-day drop by losing 3.22 per cent to Rs 949.45 after it was asked to pay USD 550 million to Pfizer and a partner for patent infringement settlement.
Sectorally, the auto sector index suffered the most by 2.33 per cent to 10,385.15 ,followed by realty sector by 2.30 per cent to 1,557.61 as fading hopes of interst rate cut.
Tata Motors, Sun Pharma, M&M, Sterlite Industries and Tata Steel are major losers in the Sensex.