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Rising geopolitical tension in the Middle East spooked domestic markets today with benchmark Sensex plummeting 654 points, its biggest daily fall in nearly three months, to close at 27,457.58. Across-the-board selling on the last day of monthly derivative contracts, sluggish global cues and surge in oil prices also pulled down markets for the seventh straight day. The NSE Nifty slipped 189 points, or 2.21 per cent, to end at 8,342.15, its weakest level in about ten weeks. In currency markets, the Indian rupee fell to 62.7 levels against the US dollar on capital outflow worries. Saudi Arabia carried out air strikes against Huthi rebels in Yemen today. This sparked off a wave of risk aversion in financial markets, traders said. Domestic participants were seen offloading their long positions in Futures and Options (F&O) segment instead of carrying them forward to the next April series, they added. In the cash market, selling was broad-based as 11 out of 12 sectoral indices closed lower. Only capital goods index escaped the bloodbath. On the BSE platform, two stocks fell for every one that rose as 1822 scrips ended in the red while 979 advanced. "Geopolitical tension in Middle East triggered selling pressure across the globe and domestic benchmarks lost close to two percent on F&O expiry day," said Jayant Manglik, President-retail distribution, Religare Securities. 
The benchmark S&P BSE 30-share barometer resumed below 28K-mark and gradually moved down to a low of 27,384.87 before concluding at 27,457.58, a steep fall of 654.25 points or 2.33 per cent. Today's fall was biggest since January 6, 2015 when it had plunged by 854.86 points or 3.07 per cent. The Sensex has now registered its longest losing string -- seven days -- in 2015. It has lost 1,280 points in seven days. Elsewhere in Asia, markets mostly fell in line with an overnight sell-off on Wall Street, after weak US data hinted at ongoing weakness in the world's biggest economy. European markets were also trading lower with deep cuts of up to two per cent.

Key Asian indices in Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan fell by 0.13 per cent to 1.39 per cent while those in China and Singapore firmed up by 0.37 per cent to 0.58 per cent. In Europe, France's CAC, Germany's DAX and the UK's FTSE dropped by 1.36 per cent to 1.98 per cent. Meanwhile, provisional local data showed that Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) bought shares worth Rs 813.19 crore and Domestic Institutional Investors (DIIs) picked up shares worth Rs 96.52 crore yesterday. According to analysts, the Indian markets may remain subdued until the end of the current financial year on March 31 as investors preferred to book profits at the year-end. Coming back to today's trade, as many as 26 scrips out of the 30-share Sensex pack ended lower. "Markets worldwide are under stress as Saudi Arabia has attacked Yemen through air attack which has led to supply concerns over crude oil prices. We expect the Indian markets to remain sideways bullish in the coming week and Nifty to remain in the range of 8,600-9,100 in the coming weeks," said Rakesh Goyal, Senior Vice President, Bonanza Portfolio. Major Sensex laggards include HDFC (5.32 per cent), Wipro (4.01 per cent), Sesa Sterlite (3.90 per cent), Infosys (3.30 per cent), SBI (3.18 per cent), Axis Bank (3.03 per cent), ICICI Bank (2.90 per cent), Tata Motors (2.78 per cent), Coal India (2.58 per cent) and Sun Pharma (2.39 per cent). Hindalco (2.33 per cent), TCS (2.32 per cent), NTPC (2.31 per cent), HUL (2.30 per cent), Tata Steel (2.21 per cent), ONGC (1.89 per cent), Dr Reddy's (1.84 per cent), Reliance Industries (1.67 per cent) and Maruti (1.36 per cent) also notched up losses. Total equity turnover dropped to Rs 2,999 crore from Rs 4,405.75 crore yesterday.


Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) took another plunge on Thursday when it lost nearly 904 points, or 2.9 per cent. Market analysts attributed the sharp drop to bearish sentiments among the investors. "It appears the market is coming under pressure because of heavy selling this week by foreign funds," analyst Mukaram Bukhari said. "There is also the issue of some political uncertainty in Karachi which is the financial hub of Pakistan and it is leading to dumping of shares by foreign investors," he said. He pointed out that foreign selling was gradually pushing the index into the red zone and some commodities were coming under pressure. The KSE-100 Index went down on Thursday even though on Wednesday, Moody’s upgraded Pakistan’s foreign currency government bond rating from stable to positive – something that should have triggered bullish sentiments in the market. Trade volumes on Wednesday touched their six-month low point, as only as 99 million shares were traded worth Rs 6.1 billion.



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