Mumbai: The BSE benchmark Sensex today closed below 18,000 for the first time in about seven months, losing over 261 points as funds sold stocks amid concerns that rising inflation will trigger further hike in interest rates and trim corporate earnings.
The Bombay Stock Exchange index, Sensex, which had edged up a bit in the previous session, dropped by 261.49 points, or 1.45 per cent to 17,775.70, a level last seen on July 8. It touched the day's low of 17,742.18. The gauge, the world s worst performer this year after Egypt, fell to close below 18,000 for the first time since July 26. It has lost 15 per cent from its all-time high on November 5.
In a similar fashion, the broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty dropped below 5,400 points level to close with a loss of 83.45 points, or 1.55 per cent to 5,312.55, after touching the day's low of 5,303.40.
A mixed trading pattern in the Asian region and lower opening in Europe also influenced the market sentiment. Brokers said rising input costs raised concerns that they would hurt corporate earnings and that the rising inflation will force RBI to further hike interest rate. They said the impact of the fall was more pronounced in interest sensitive industries such as realty, consumer durables, banking and auto.
In the 30-BSE index components, 25 stocks closed with losses led by Hero Honda, Tata Motors, ICICI Bank, Larsen and Toubro and HDFC Bank. Hero Honda Motors, a motorcycle maker, lost 4.06 per cent to Rs 1,513.15, extending its drop this year to 24 per cent after a split with its Japanese partner. Tata Motors, also a Sensex kitty stock fell 2.86 per cent to Rs 1,113.10 and Mahindra and Mahindra by 5.97 per cent to Rs 628.65, its lowest since September.
RBI hiked its policy rates last month for the seventh time since March last year. The realty sector index, a highly interest rate sensitive index suffered a loss of 3.08 per cent to 2,167.13 and consumer durable index by 3.81 per cent to 5,604.82.