The Indian equity benchmarks snapped their three-day winning streak on Friday dragged down by losses in banking and financial services shares. Rising Covid-19 cases in the country also weighed on investors' sentiment. The benchmarks opened lower and extended losses in noon deals on the back of selling pressure in heavyweights like ICICI Bank, Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank, Bajaj Finance, Axis Bank and Larsen & Toubro. The Sensex fell as much as 285 points and Nifty 50 index briefly slipped below its important psychological level of 14,800 at the day's lowest level.
The Sensex ended 155 points or 0.31 per cent lower at 49,591 and Nifty 50 index declined 39 points or 0.26 per cent to close at 14,835.
India reported another record number of new COVID-19 infections on Friday with daily deaths also hitting their highest in more than five months as the country battles a second wave of infections and states complain of a persistent vaccine shortage.
The country reported 131,968 new infections and 780 deaths on Friday - the biggest daily increase since mid-October. Surging COVID-19 infections have threatened to disrupt a nascent economic recovery in India and dragged its main stock indexes from record highs hit in February. Total cases in the country jumped by another daily record on Friday.
On Dalal Stree, six of 11 sector gauges compiled by the National Stock Exchange ended lower led by the Nifty Bank index's 1 per cent fall. Nifty Private Bank, Realty, Metal and Financial Services indexes also fell over 0.5 per cent.
On the other hand, pharma shares witnessed strong buying interest on rising demand for medicines due to rising Coronavirus cases. The gauge of pharma shares rose 3 per cent. PSU Bank, IT and Media indices closed with a positive bias.
Mid- and small-cap shares outperformed their larger peers as Nifty Midcap 100 index rose 0.2 per cent and Nifty Smallcap 100 index rose 0.5 per cent.
Bajaj Finance, UPL, Tata Steel, UltraTech Cement, NTPC, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, Hindalco, Coal India, Eicher Motors, Indian Oil, Reliance Industries, BPCL, IndusInd Bank and Larsen & Toubro were among the top losers on the Nifty.
On the flipside, Cipla, Sun Pharma, Hindustan Unilever, Tech Mahindra, Tata Consumer Products, Wipro, Dr Reddy's Labs, titan and JSW Steel were among the gainers.
The overall market breadth was positive as 1,656 shares ended higher while 1,249 closed lower on the BSE.