Domestic stock markets ended a volatile session on Tuesday with mild losses, as selling pressure in banking, metal and pharmaceutical counters offset buying interest in IT shares. The S&P BSE Sensex index traded in a range of 436.73 points, between 38,309.75 and 38,746.48, staying positive territory for most of the session. The broader NSE Nifty 50 benchmark moved within a range of 11,307.80-11,437.25, swinging between gains and losses compared to its previous close of 11,355.05. (Track Sensex, Nifty LIVE)
The Sensex ended 51.88 points - or 0.14 per cent - lower at 38,365.35, and the Nifty settled at 11,317.35, down 37.70 points - or 0.33 per cent - from its previous close.
Bharti Infratel, Zee Entertainment and Tata Motors, closing between 4.45 per cent and 8.14 per cent lower, were the worst hit among the 37 losers in the 50-scrip Nifty basket. On the other hand, Bharat Petroleum, HCL Tech and Infosys, ending between 1.41 per cent and 2.75 per cent higher, were the top gainers in the index.
Bharti Airtel (closing 3.36 per cent lower), Axis Bank (-3.13 per cent) and HDFC (-0.73 per cent) were the biggest drags on Sensex, whereas Reliance Industries (+1.18 per cent) and Infosys (1.67 per cent) were the top supports.
Overall market breadth was highly negative, with an advance-decline ratio of almost 1:2, as 976 stocks on the BSE closed higher against 1,719 that finished in the negative zone.
Analysts say renewed concerns that recovery from the coronavirus pandemic may not take place so soon hurt market sentiment, amid caution in global stocks.
"Indo-China border tensions flared again, along with dismal GDP forecasts by rating agencies, which impacted the markets," Vinod Nair, head of research at Geojit Financial Services, told NDTV. (Also Read: India Thwarts New China Aggression, Holds Its Ground)
The country's economy is projected to contract 11.8 per cent in the current fiscal year, before bouncing back in the next fiscal year, said credit ratings agency India Ratings and Research - an arm of the US-based Fitch Group. (Also Read: Rating Agencies Say India's GDP To Shrink Up To 11.8% In 2020-21)
The Nifty Bank index - comprising stocks of 12 major lenders in the country - ended 0.87 per cent lower, dragged by State Bank of India and Axis Bank, which closed down 2.21 per cent and 3.50 per cent respectively. Late on Monday, the RBI outlined guidelines for restructuring loans for banks, as the sector braces for a surge in bad loans amid the COVID-19 crisis.
"There seemed to be silent distribution in markets with fears on account of border tensions, increased number of coronavirus cases and India reporting higher number of cases, ahead of Brazil," Anita Gandhi, director at Arihant Capital Markets, told NDTV.
India recorded its highest daily deaths from the coronavirus in more than a month on Tuesday, even as new infections slowed, official data showed. The health ministry said 1,133 people had died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the highest since July. However, new daily cases were at 75,809, the lowest in a week.
"IT and pharma sectors are expected to report good numbers; so they remained in the marginally positive territory," she added.
The Nifty IT index - comprising stocks of 10 technology majors including TCS and Infosys - ended 1.20 per cent higher, having risen as much as 2.72 per cent during the session.
The rupee ended at a one-week low of 73.60 against the dollar. Weakness in the rupee limits the profitability for exporters such as IT companies.
Meanwhile, broader Asian shares were mixed, as investors weighed policy measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic against rising COVID-19 cases.
"Global markets are looking weak, and we maintain our cautious stance," Geojit's Mr Nair added.
European shares started the day on a weak note, with the United Kingdom's FTSE benchmark index down 0.27 per cent in early trade. The E-Mini S&P 500 futures were last seen down 0.78 per cent, indicating a negative start for Wall Street on Tuesday, following a day's public holiday.
(With agency inputs)