The Indian equity benchmarks extended slide in afternoon trading on worries that rising inflation could lead to the Reserve Bank of India raising interest rates, which are at all-time low, in the upcoming Monetary Policy Meet in April, analysts said. The Sensex tanked as much as 960 points and Nifty 50 index dropped below its important psychological level of 14,800. Banking and financial services shares were among the worst hit in Monday's market selloff.
As of 12:49 pm, the Sensex plunged 848 points to 49,944 and Nifty 50 dropped 249 points to 14,782.
Government data showed annual retail inflation rose to 5.03 per cent in February on higher fuel prices, which could pressure the central bank's accommodative stance and raise interest rates which are at all-time low. Data also showed industrial output as measured by the Index of Industrial Production contracted 1.6 per cent year-on-year in January.
Resurgence in COVID-19 cases also weighed on the investor sentiment. The country reported this year's biggest daily rise in cases of 26,291 on Monday. India is the third-worst affected country globally with 11.39 million cases, behind the United States and Brazil.
All the 11 sector gauges, barring the index of IT shares, were trading lower led by the Nifty Bank index's nearly 3 per cent or over 1,000 point fall. Nifty Financial Services, PSU Bank, Private Bank, Media and Pharma indexes also dropped over 2 per cent.
Broader markets were also facing selling pressure as Nifty Midcap 100 dropped 1.5 per cent and Nifty Smallcap 100 index fell 1.2 per cent.
Axis Bank was top Nifty loser, the stock fell 4.12 per cent to Rs 720. Bajaj Finance, Divi's Labs, Bajaj Finserv, Mahindra & Mahindra, ICICI Bank, GAIL India, State Bank of India, HDFC, Adani Ports, IndusInd Bank, Reliance Industries, Dr Reddy's Labs and Bajaj Auto fell between 2.5-4 per cent.
On the flipside, Tech Mahindra, Power Grid, HCL Technologies, Britannia Industries, Nestle India, TCS and Hindustan Unilever were among the notable gainers.