Mumbai, Nov 21: The Sensex today plunged by a whopping 678.18 points on the Bombay Stock Exchange to close below the 19,000 mark at 18,602.62 on heavy panic selling by Foreign Institutional Investors (FII's) and domestic institutional investors.
European markets were also weak. France's CAC 40 was down by 1.59 pc to 5,418.95 followed by Germany's DAX by 1.29 pc to 7,532.40 and UK's FTSE 100 edged lower by 1.36 per cent to 6,142.
Asian markets fell today after the Federal Reserve said US economic growth would probably slow down in 2008. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down by 4.15 pc at 26,618.19, followed by Japan's Nikkei by 2.46 pc at 14,837.66, Singapore's Straits Times by 2.65 pc at 3,347.25, Taiwan's Taiwan Weighted by 2.27 pc at 8,484.11, South Korea's Seoul Composite by 3.49 pc at 1,806.99 edged lower and this led to the downward trend in Indian bourses.
Brokers said the market declined sharply in late trade. Reliance Industries, NTPC, Bharat Heavy Electricals, ITC and Reliance Energy were major losers. All the sectoral indices on BSE were in red.
Capital goods, banking, power, metal stocks were also among the losers.
The Market breadth was weak. Profit taking was witnessed across the board as mid-cap and small-cap counters faltered.
Data showing heavy FII sales yesterday, weighed on the market sentiment. The sentiment was also impacted by media reports that the government is considering raising the securities transaction tax (STT), with one of the options being increasing the ceiling to 0.5 per cent. Finance minister P Chidambaram could move an appropriate amendment to the Finance Act, 2007, in Parliament in the current winter session for raising STT, reports suggested.
Persistent worries about the impact of sub-prime mortgage defaults on US economy pulled stocks across Asia and Europe. The Japanese yen strengthened to a two-year high against the dollar and also gained against the Euro as investors reversed carry trades, where they borrow yen to buy high-yielding but risky assets.
Later, the 30-share BSE Sensex resumed low at 19,197.57 points. At day's low of 18,515.30 Sensex had lost 765.50 points in a single day from the last close.
The broader CNX S&P Nifty index of NSE was also quoted below the 5700 barrier and closed lower at 5561.05 points with a loss of 219.85 points or 3.80 pc, before it resumed a low at 5778.80 points from its last close of 5780.90 points. The Nifty index recorded a low at 5530.85 points in intra day trade.
FIIs were net sellers to the tune of Rs 4,201.14 crore in the futures&options segment yesterday. According to data released by the NSE, FIIs were net sellers of index futures of Rs 2,897.67 crore and bought index options worth Rs 35.34 crore. They were net sellers of stock futures of Rs 1,334.46 crore and sold stock options worth Rs 4.36 crore.
As per provisional data, FIIs sold shares worth a net Rs 1800.68 crore in the cash market on Tuesday. Domestic institutional investors were net buyers of shares worth Rs 463.95 crore yesterday.
The market breadth was weak. On BSE 642 stocks advanced, while 2,159 stocks declined and 29 stocks were unchanged. 29 out of 30 stocks from the Sensex pack were in the red.
The BSE Mid-Cap index declined by 4.73 pc to 8,217.84. The BSE Small-Cap index dropped by 3.98 pc to 10,265.23, brokers said.
Index heavyweight and India's largest private sector firm by market capitalisation Reliance Industries dropped 2 pc to Rs 2,731. The stock came sharply off session's high of Rs 2,800. As per reports, Reliance Industries (RIL) has signed production sharing agreement (PSA) for two exploratory blocks 34 and 37, located in the Jeza basin of eastern Yemen, taking its total number of overseas exploratory blocks to nine.
FMCG major ITC declined by 5.37 pc to Rs 186. As per reports, it is preparing for a series of acquisitions to strengthen its food business, the fastest growing segment among the new businesses under its umbrella.
Banking majors declined sharply. ICICI Bank was down by 5.59 pc to Rs 1,002, HDFC Bank eased by 1.94 pc to Rs 1,599.90, and State Bank of India came down by 5.99 pc to Rs 2,143.
NTPC was down by 8.49 pc to Rs 238.30, followed by Tata Power Company by 4.55 pc to Rs 1,163, Reliance Energy by 6.55 pc to Rs 1,676.70, PowerGrid Corporation of India by 6.38 pc to Rs 149.
Capital goods stocks declined. Larsen&Toubro slipped by 5.25 pc to Rs 4,108.60 on BSE, after the company said yesterday it had signed an agreement with Raytheon for the US defence major's multi-role fighter jet programme, besides co-operation in defence projects. Bharat Heavy Electricals was down by 6.33 pc to Rs 2,486.10 and Suzlon Energy came down by 6.66 pc to Rs 1,905.05 to be among the other losers from capital goods sector.
Metal stocks declined for the second day in a row due to falling global metal prices. Sterlite Industries declined by 7.65 pc to Rs 885.50, Hindalco Industries eased by 4.94 pc to Rs 184.55, Steel Authority of India dropped by 6.89 pc to Rs 245.45 edged lower.
Tata Steel declined by 4.37 pc to Rs 822. As per reports, Riversdale Mining, Tata Steel's partner in Australia, has discovered around 1.2 billion tonnes of coal at northern Benga in the Moatize district of Mozambique, which happens to be the world's largest unexplored coal province.
India's largest real estate developer by market capitalisation DLF crashed by 4.12 pc to Rs 870.50. Indiabulls Real Estate came down by 6.94 pc to Rs 615.30 and Unitech eased by 5.45 pc to Rs 359.35.
Chambal Fertiliser&Chemicals declined by 13.9 pc to Rs 64.40 and was the top loser from BSE's 'A' group shares. Dena Bank eased by 11.52 pc to Rs 78.45 followed by Escorts by 11.6 pc to Rs 142.95, Gujarat Narmada valley Fertilisers Company by 10.1 pc to Rs 174.85 and Neyveli Lignite by 10.92 pc to Rs 185.60 were other major losers from A group.
Rama Pulp&Paper was down by 18.99 pc to Rs 36.25, Indo amines eased by 17.99 pc to Rs 17.55 and Vas Infrastructure came down by 16.53 to Rs 60.35.
Among side counters, Inhouse Productions was up by 72.81 pc to Rs 22.05, followed by Orient information Technology by 20 pc to Rs 19.60, Venkat Pharma by 20 pc to Rs 15.81, Dharani Sugars by 19.11 pc to Rs 22.75 and Abhishek Mills by 12.16 pc to Rs 61.25.
ACC was up by 0.03 pc to Rs 1,085, off session's low of Rs 1,050 and was the only gainer from Sensex pack. The company said today it had sold surplus assets, including land in Haryana state, for Rs 205 crore.
Religare Enterprises was hovering at Rs 521.70, a premium of 182 pc over IPO price of Rs 185. It was listed on the bourses today.