The Union Health Ministry’s statement on the surfacing of a ‘double-mutant variant’ of the novel coronavirus and fears of fresh restrictions and an economic slowdown spooked markets with the benchmark stock indices shedding more than 1.7% each on broad-based selling.
The S&P BSE Sensex lost 871 points, or 1.74%, to end the day at 49,180. As many as 28 of the 30 Sensex members ended in the red. The sell-off was led by banking, metal, auto, financial services and IT stocks.
The NSE Nifty 50 index also shed 265 points, or 1.79%, closing at 14,549.
Bears took charge as weak global cues combined with the news of a new mutant strain in India of the virus that causes COVID-19 unnerved participants, said Ajit Mishra, VP, research, Religare Broking Ltd.
“The broader markets witnessed sell-off as both mid-cap and small-cap ended with losses of 1.7% and 1.6% respectively,” he said.
Mr. Mishra said indications were there would be a further slide with volatility remaining high on account of the scheduled expiry of March contracts. “We reiterate our bearish yet cautious view and suggest maintaining positions on both sides,” he said.
“In Wednesday’s correction, the sell-off was witnessed across the board and hence, further correction cannot be ruled out on the expiry day,” said Sameet Chavan, chief analyst-technical and derivatives, Angel Broking.
“We continue to remain cautious and advise against creating aggressive bets in the market for a while.”