Indian stocks experience worst day in 4-1/2 years on virus panic - GulfToday

Indian stocks experience worst day in 4-1/2 years on virus panic


An Indian stockbroker reacts as he watches the Bombay Stock Exchange index on a trading terminal in Mumbai on Monday. Associated Press

Indian stocks on Monday recorded their worst single-day fall in more than four years, tracking global markets lower, as panic over the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak intensified and oil prices plummeted.

The NSE Nifty 50 index closed down 4.90% at 10,451.45, its worst daily decline since August 2015. The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex ended 5.17% lower at 35,634.95.

“Panic is an understatement,” said Manav Chopra, head of research for equity at Indiabulls Securities Ltd in Mumbai. “Important support levels have been breached with ease in this environment,” he said of the Nifty 50.

The number of people infected with the coronavirus has topped 110,000 globally as the outbreak reached more countries and caused more economic carnage.

Unnerving already panicked investors, oil prices sank more than 25% in their biggest one-day rout since the Gulf War.

Analysts expect the decline in crude prices to help boost economic growth in India, one of the world’s top oil importers, but shares in large oil companies slumped on Monday.

State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp recorded its worst fall since 1995, dropping nearly 16%, while oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd dived 13%.

The country’s markets regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, issued a statement on the market selloff, saying: “The perceived economic fallout from COVID-19 coupled with steep fall in global crude prices led to volatility in securities market.” Monday’s rout comes after a bruising two weeks in which the Nifty 50 shed 9% on virus fears and turmoil at Yes Bank Ltd, one of the country’s largest lenders.

The blue-chip index also hit a 17-month low on Monday, erasing a roughly 12% gain it recorded in 2019.

The rupee was down 0.13% at 74.0562 against the dollar, as of 1030 GMT, having hit its lowest since October 2018 earlier on Monday.

The global selloff also hit other markets in South Asia.

Pakistan’s Karachi Stock Exchange benchmark 100-share index was down 3.3%, while the Pakistani rupee fell to 156 rupees to a dollar, its lowest level in six months, according to the Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan.

In Bangladesh, the Dhaka Stock Exchange 30 index plunged 6.19%.

Sri Lankan markets were shut on Monday for a holiday.

Meanwhile, shares in India’s embattled Yes Bank soared by almost a third on Monday on hopes of a central bank-backed rescue plan for the country’s fourth-largest private lender, which tanked last week on fears it was about to collapse.

Yes Bank, which is struggling under a massive pile of bad loans, plunged 56 per cent on Friday after the Reserve Bank of India late Thursday seized control of the lender and imposed withdrawal limits.

The share price rallied Monday to close more than 31 per cent higher on the Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensex index after the country’s largest lender, the State Bank of India (SBI), confirmed Saturday it was ready to invest 24.5 billion rupees ($330 million) for a 49 per cent stake.

“In absolute terms, this is one of the big banking sector failures in recent corporate history for India,” Bank of Baroda economist Sameer Narang told AFP.

“So, we will have to give SBI the benefit of doubt in reviving Yes Bank.” The Reserve Bank of India tweeted Sunday depositors should not worry about their savings in any bank after customers rushed to Yes Bank ATMs and branches on Friday and Saturday in a desperate bid to retrieve their funds.

The RBI also indicated it would write down some bonds issued by Yes Bank.

“Interest from SBI, which will likely get another investor on board, has addressed a major problem of survival for Yes Bank and buoyed its shares for the time being,” Anand Rathi securities economist Sujan Hajra told AFP.

Hajra cautioned that a full recovery was a long way away.

Yes Bank’s administrator Prashant Kumar, appointed by the RBI, told the Press Trust of India late Monday he was hopeful the withdrawal limits could be lifted as soon as Saturday if the rescue plan is approved.

The RBI said the lender’s weakened position was “largely due to inability of the bank to raise capital to address potential loan losses and resultant downgrades”.

The news added to liquidity concerns about India’s financial system more than a year after the near-collapse of IL&FS, one of the nation’s biggest “shadow banks” − finance houses responsible for significant consumer lending.

A resulting reluctance of banks to lend money has exacerbated the woes of Asia’s third-biggest economy, with growth slowing for seven consecutive quarters before picking up in late 2019.


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