Equity benchmarks fell on Wednesday, extending losses from the fag end of the previous session, driven by a global stocks sell-off as aggressive rate hike concerns returned to the fore after strong US data reinforced the Federal Reserve tightening path view despite widespread economic gloom.
The BSE Sensex index fell 474.1 points to 58,722.89 in early trade, and the NSE declined 171.3 points to 17,484.30.
The Nifty Tech and Bank indexes fell nearly 0.9 per cent each.
Ahead of market open, Prashanth Tapse, Senior Vice President for Research at Mehta Equities said, "domestic equities are likely to join the global market slump in early trades Wednesday, amid recurring worries of major central banks tightening interest rates to tackle rising inflation that could result in global slowdown. Also, recession fears are getting stronger after Russia continued to discontinue crucial oil supply to European nations."
"Besides, strengthening dollar, hawkish Fed bets and a new COVID-19 lockdown in China could also weigh on sentiment," he added.
An Asian stock gauge dropped to its lowest level since 2020 as stocks declined from Tokyo to Sydney and Chinese tech firms tumbled.
“Many investors are walking on egg shells,” Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco, said on Bloomberg Television. “The real issue is that it could be a one-two punch. We could see the Fed continuing to pummel the economy with a significant rate hike, lets say 75 basis points, and then of course we get downward revisions to earnings that are significant.”
MSCI's largest index of Asia-Pacific equities outside of Japan fell 1.5 per cent in early trading, mirroring the declines on Wall Street, and Japan's key Nikkei average opened lower by 1.12 per cent.
US and European futures were negative, a day after the S&P 500 fell but managed to stay above the critical threshold of 3,900.
"US equities returned from their holiday yesterday, but the mood remained gloomy...The session wasn't particularly brutal. Both indices just fell at the open and stayed low. Equity futures remain in the red today, so the slow bleed in equities looks like it will continue today," said Robert Carnell, Regional Head of Research for Asia-Pacific at ING.
According to data released overnight, the US services sector expanded for the second straight month in August thanks to greater order growth and employment.
That supported the idea that there was no recession, but it also raised concerns that the Fed would not reduce the pace of interest rate hikes any time soon.
The good news for the real economy has now become bad news for the market - both for the bond and the stock market," Redmond Wong, Hong Kong-based Market Strategist of Greater China at Saxo Capital Markets, told Reuters.
Weaker than expected jobs data last week ignited hopes the Fed may consider a soft landing with slower rate hikes, but "that hope pretty much vanished again" on the new set of numbers, he added.
"Investors we talked to...have lost quite a bit of confidence in the (stock) market," Mr Wong said, adding investors have showed renewed interest in high-grade bonds to gain cash flow from coupons.