Domestic stock markets extended recent losses to a fourth straight day tracking weakness in global peers amid concerns about the prospect of the coronavirus outbreak affecting world economy. The S&P BSE Sensex index slumped as much as 520.81 points to hit 39,760.39 in late afternoon deals, and the broader NSE Nifty benchmark plunged to as low as 11,639.60, down 158.3 points from the previous close. Weakness across sectors dragged the markets, with banking, automobile, metal and energy stocks being the worst hit.
The markets however trimmed some of those losses. At 3:00 pm, the S&P BSE Sensex traded 380.37 points - or 0.94 per cent - lower at 39,900.83, while the NSE Nifty was down 112.60 points - or 0.95 per cent - at 11,685.30.
Forty stocks in the Nifty 50 index traded lower. Top percentage losers at the time were GAIL, Sun Pharma, Tata Motors, Maruti Suzuki and Bharat Petroleum, trading between 2.57 per cent and 5.13 per cent lower. (Track S&P BSE Sensex And NSE Nifty Here)
On the other hand, Yes Bank, UltraTech Cement, HCL Tech, HUL and Britannia - up between 0.31 per cent and 2.84 per cent each - were the biggest Nifty gainers.
Reliance Industries, Infosys and ICICI Bank were the top drags on the Sensex, together accounting for a fall of more than 170 points in the index.
The markets were set to close lower for the fourth session in a row. As of Tuesday's close, the Sensex and Nifty indices had lost 1,041.8 points (2.52 per cent) and 328 points (2.70 per cent) respectively in three trading sessions.
Cipla shares fell nearly 6 per cent after the Mumbai-based drug maker's manufacturing facility in Goa received a warning letter from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Analysts awaited official macroeconomic data due by the end of the week for any signs of revival in economic growth. The government will release data on GDP or gross domestic product in the October-December period on Friday evening. (Here's What To Expect From Official GDP Data)
Equities in other Asian markets fell on Wednesday as the United States' warning to its citizens to prepare for the possibility of a coronavirus pandemic pulled the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average indices more than 3 per cent each overnight in their fourth straight session of losses.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan declined 1.28 per cent, whereas Japan was among the worst performing markets in the region, with its benchmark Nikkei index sliding 1.1 per cent.
The European indices, including the CAC, DAX and FTSE have also also suffered bruises of around 2 per cent at opening bell as Italy has acquired the ignominous distinction of emerging as the epicentre of the virus in Europe,
While the stock rout has been global, the recent pace of selling in Asia has not been as severe as it has on Wall Street, which has been hit hard by the escalation of virus cases outside of Asia.
The World Health Organization says the epidemic has peaked in China, but concern that its spread is accelerating in other countries is likely to keep investors on edge.
The market breadth was weak. Out of 2,540 stocks traded on the BSE, there were 757 advancing stocks as against 149 declines.