Indian equity benchmarks plunged on Monday, extending losses for the third straight day as investors move away from risk assets driven by a rise in Covid cases in China resulting in reinforcement of strict restrictions.
The BSE Sensex index fell 518.64 points, or 0.84 per cent, to close at 61,144.84, and the broader NSE Nifty index declined 147.70 points, or 0.81 per cent, to end at 18,159.95.
"The optimism driven by the recent decline is US inflation has run its course and the market is likely to wait for further data on the direction of US inflation and interest rates," V K Vijayakumar, Chief Investment Strategist at Geojit Financial Services, told PTI.
Risk assets took a hit after a surge in Covid cases in China, in a city close to Beijing that was supposed to be a test case for easing strict restrictions. Schools have been closed, universities have been locked down, and residents have been urged to stay at home for five days.
Steve Brice, Chief Investment Officer for Wealth Management at Standard Chartered Bank, told Bloomberg that the latest cases of Covid infections and deaths in China present a challenge to the government and dashed hopes of an early easing in stringent restrictions.
"We've seen a very strong rally in China markets in recent times," on the expectations of a relaxation of curbs, Mr Brice said on Bloomberg Radio. "So investors would be very kind of interested to see what the response is going to be."
Beyond Asia, traders will be looking for clues in the minutes of the most recent Fed meeting on Wednesday to determine when and how quickly interest rates will increase.
"Markets are likely to struggle in early Monday trades, tracking weakness in SGX Nifty and other Asian indices. The pessimism can be attributed to the harsh tone by the Fed officials over the weekend," said Prashanth Tapse, Senior Vice President for Research at Mehta Equities.