Sensex falls 285 pts; ends at over 4-month low

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Mumbai, Jan 27 (PTI) Stock markets turned distinctly weakon rising food inflation and a possibility of further hike ininterest rates, with the BSE benchmark Sensex dipping another285 points today to end at over 4-1/2-month low of 18,684.43.

The market witnessed all-round selling on the last day forsettlement of derivatives contracts this month. Thus, Withover 180 point fall in the last session, Sensex has lost about467 points in two trading days.

Heavyweights like Infosys Tech, RIL and ICICI Bank ledthe fall on covering of long positions by wary operators,expecting further fall due to rise in food inflation amidovernight rise in interest rates.

Realty, health care, metal and banking counters were thepace-setters of the decline. Other segments also sufferedsharp dips as all the 13 sectoral indices ended in the red,logging a loss between 1.14 per cent and 3.57 pct.

The market was already in the negative grip after thehike in the lending (repo) and borrowing (reverse repo) ratesby 25 basis points each by the Reserve Bank on January 25 inits quarterly monetary policy review.

It suffered further setback on rise in food inflation --up at 15.57 per cent for the week ended January 15, rekindlingfears that RBI may hike policy rates again to tame overallinflation, making corporate and consumer loans dearer.

This prompted institutional and retail investors to goon profit-booking or even to go short.

The Bombay Stock Exchange 30-share bellwether indexopened higher at 19,086.69 on initial firm Asian cues but fellback sharply to settle the day at 18,684.43, netting a steepfall of 285.02 points or 1.5 per cent. Previously, it haddropped 181.83 points or 0.95 per cent..

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