Domestic stock markets started Wednesday's session on a choppy note tracking a mixed trend in Asian peers, as the country remained in an extended lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The S&P BSE Sensex index fell as much as 294.76 points to hit 31,158.75 in the first few minutes of trade, following a positive start at 31,577.63, up 124.12 points from the previous close. The broader NSE Nifty 50 benchmark slipped to as low as 9,116.50, having opened at 9,226.80 compared to its previous close of 9,205.60. Analysts awaited more large cap companies to report their financial results for the January-March period.
At 9:36 am, the Sensex traded 256.21 points - or 0.81 per cent - lower at 31,197.30 while the Nifty was down 63.85 points - or 0.69 per cent - at 9,141.75. All sectors but pharmaceutical shares traded in the negative zone.
In the 50-scrip Nifty basket, 34 stocks moved lower at the time. Top percentage losers were Bharat Petroleum, ITC, Indian Oil, Axis Bank and Bharti Infratel, trading between 4.31 per cent and 6.89 per cent lower.
On the other hand, Adani Ports, ONGC, Bharti Airtel, Hindalco and Shree Cement - up between 1.13 per cent and 2.19 per cent each - were the top Nifty gainers.
ITC (down 5.81 per cent), Axis Bank (4.15 per cent), Kotak Mahindra Bank (1.08 per cent) and TCS (0.94 per cent) together accounted for a loss of more than 150 points in the Sensex.
Yes Bank shares fell as much as 5.26 per cent to Rs 25.20 apiece on the BSE, ahead of the release of financial earnings for the quarter ended March 31 by the private sector lender.
Equity markets elsewhere in Asia were mixed, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan trading up 0.58 per cent but Australia's S&P AUST index down 0.68 per cent. Markets in Japan and Thailand were closed for public holidays.
Overnight in the US, Wall Street benchmark indices rallied as healthcare stocks jumped, oil prices surged and a number of countries and US states eased coronavirus-induced restrictions in an attempt to revive their economies.
The S&P 500 index ended 0.90 per cent higher, whereas the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite indices rose 0.56 per cent and 1.13 per cent respectively.
Oil prices soared on Tuesday, as some European and Asian countries along with several US states began to ease coronavirus lockdown measures. International benchmark Brent crude rose 13.9 per cent to end at $30.97 a barrel.
On Tuesday, the S&P BSE Sensex index had closed 261.84 points - or 0.83 per cent - lower at 31,453.51 and the broader NSE Nifty 50 benchmark settled at 9,205.60, down 87.90 points (0.95 per cent) from the previous close, as the markets ended a volatile session on a negative note.