Indian equity benchmarks snapped their three-day winning streak and fell sharply on Monday as rising coronavirus infections amid shortage of essential medicines and oxygen weighed on investors' sentiment. The Sensex dropped as much as 1,469 points to hit an intraday low of 47,362.71 and Nifty 50 index dropped below its important psychological level of 14,200. Shortage of oxygen, vaccines and essential medicines amid rising Covid-19 infections led to imposition of lockdowns in many parts of the country which may hamper the economic recovery and led to a selloff in equities, analysts said.
The Sensex dropped 883 points or 1.81 per cent to close at 47,949 and Nifty 50 index tumbled 258 points or 1.77 per cent to settle at 14,359.
India on Monday reported its tenth record daily increase in COVID-19 cases in eleven days, with New Delhi - currently under a weekend curfew - reporting a shortage in critical-care beds.
"The surge in (COVID-19) infections looks uncontrollable right now... the numbers will stabilise but investors are worried about how long it will take and how much stress the medical system will be able to bear," Siddharth Khemka, head of retail research at Motilal Oswal Financial Services told news agency Reuters.
"An entire economic cycle is set to be impacted as cases rise and related curbs are increased," he said.
Delhi ordered a six-day lockdown on Monday as daily COVID-19 cases nationwide hit a new record and the health system crumbled under the weight of new infections.
On Dalal Street selling pressure was visible across sectors as all the 11 sector gauges, barring the index of drug makers, compiled by the National Stock Exchange ended lower led by the Nifty PSU Bank index's over 4 per cent decline. Nifty Bank, Auto, Financial Services, Media, Private Bank and Realty indices also fell between 2-4 per cent.
Mid- and small-cap shares also faced selling pressure as Nifty Midcap 100 and Nifty Smallcap 100 indices fell over 2 per cent each.
On the primary market front, Macrotech Developers (formerly Lodha Developers)' shares debuted at a 10 per cent discount to the issue price in a weak market. The share price started off the session at Rs 439 on the BSE, lower by 10 per cent as against issue price of Rs 486.
Banking shares dropped on Monday as rising coronavirus infections in the country stoked fears that loan defaults may rise as renewed lockdowns to curb the spread of infections would hamper the economic activity. The gauge of 12 banking shares on the National Stock Exchange - Nifty Bank index - slumped as much as 4.91 per cent or 1,572 points to hit an intraday low of 30,405.65.