Domestic stock markets started Friday's session on a lacklustre note while shares in Asian peers barely rose amid thin trade. The S&P BSE Sensex index fell as much as 110.8 points to hit 41,275.60 in early trade, and the broader NSE Nifty 50 benchmark declined to as low as 12,149.65, down 30.7 points from the previous close. With that, the markets continued their downward movement after a day's breather on Thursday. A slew of disappointing earnings had weighed on the market earlier this week, with benchmark indices Sensex and Nifty losing about 2 per cent each in the past three sessions.
At 9:22 am, the Sensex traded 71.98 points - or 0.17 per cent - lower at 41,314.42, while the Nifty was down 28.25 points - or 0.23 per cent - at 12,152.10.
Twenty seven stocks on the 50-scrip Nifty index moved lower at the time. Top percentage laggards were Power Grid, Bharti Infratel, Adani Ports, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Hindalco, down between 0.98 per cent and 3.47 per cent.
On the other hand, Zee Entertainment, Yes Bank, Indian Oil, UPL and Coal India - up between 1.13 per cent and 1.31 per cent - were the top Nifty gainers.
Infosys, HDFC Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank were the biggest drags on the Sensex.
Market breadth was largely neutral, with 494 stocks trading higher on the BSE and 462 moving lower. On the NSE, 790 stocks advanced while 706 declined.
Analysts say the markets are likely to remain volatile until the government presents the Union Budget on February 1, when it may also unveil more measures to lift growth. They also awaited financial results by large cap companies for cues in the near term.
Bank of Baroda, JSW Steel, UltraTech Cement and ICICI Bank will report their earnings for the quarter ended December 31 this week.
Equities in other Asian markets were sluggish amid thin trade after the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the coronavirus did not yet constitute a global public health emergency. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.1 per cent, while Japan's Nikkei was flat.
But worries over rapid spread of the deadly virus kept investors on guard as millions of Chinese travel during the Lunar New Year holiday period.
Trade in Asia is already slowing down for the Lunar New Year holiday, with financial markets in China, Taiwan and South Korea closed on Friday.
Overnight in the US, the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.2 per cent to a record closing high, while the S&P 500 added 0.1 per cent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average eased 0.1 per cent.
On Thursday, the S&P BSE Sensex benchmark index had ended 271.02 points - or 0.66 per cent - higher at 41,386.40 and the broader NSE Nifty benchmark settled at 12,180.35, up 73.45 points - or 0.61 per cent - from its previous close, as the markets broke a three-day falling spree.