The S&P BSE Sensex fell for seventh day in a row to clock its longest stretch of losses since February 7, 2018 as investors turned cautious amid rising geo-political concerns. The S&P BSE Sensex fell as much as 365 points and Nifty dropped 126 points before Sensex closing 0.19 per cent or 67 points at 35,809 and Nifty settling 20 points lower at 10,726. Muted earnings from corporates in the December quarter, trade tensions between US and China, and rising global oil prices also kept investors on the back foot.
Analysts attributed the prolonged weakness in the markets to a combination of factors.
"Brent crude at a three-month high of $65 per barrel, trade tensions between the US and China, and the risk of geopolitical tension between India and Pakistan all weighed on the Indian markets today," said Viral Berawala, CIO at Essel Mutual Fund.
Tensions between India and Pakistan grew a day after over 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in the deadliest terror attack on security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.
Thirteen of 19 sector gauges compiled by BSE ended lower led by S&P BSE Healthcare Index's 2.3 per cent decline. On the other hand, S&P BSE Utilities was top gainer, up 2.6 per cent.
From the Nifty 50 basket of shares, Dr. Reddy's Labs was among top losers after it fell as much as 30 per cent before closing 4 per cent lower after research firm Jefferies said 11 FDA observations under Form 483 on a unit of the drug firm included four repeat observations from the US FDA.
JSW Steel, Sun Pharma, Hero MotoCorp, Tata Steel and Indiabulls Housing Finance also ended on a weak note. On the flipside, BPCL, NTPC, GAIL India, Power Grid and Bharti Infratel were among the gainers.
Mid- and small-cap shares underperformed their larger peers as the S&P BSE Midcap Index fell 1.2 per cent and the S&P BSE Smallcap Index dropped 0.83 per cent.
The overall market breadth was negative as 1,604 stocks declined while 922 ended higher on BSE.