Rating agency S&P lowered Greece’s credit rating to BB+ from BBB+ and warned that bondholders could recover as little as 30% of their initial investment if the country restructures its debt. It also reduced Portugal by two steps to A- from A+.
The rating downgrades sent stock prices tumbling down in the European markets once again, resulting in a fairly heavy sell-off on the Indian bourses in afternoon trade.
Realty stocks took a severe beating. Oil stocks, led by heavyweight Reliance Industries, saw some heavy selling in the session. Metal, information technology, capital goods, power and bank stocks too felt the heat. Automobile stocks found some support midway through the session, but lost their way in late afternoon trade. PSU stocks too had a weak outing. Select pharmaceuticals and FMCG stocks had a good outing today.
The Sensex, which plunged to 17,344.58 in late afternoon trade, ended the day at 17,380.08 with a big loss of 310.54 points or 1.76%, while the broader 50-stock Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange settled at 5215.45, recording a loss of 92.90 points or 1.75%. The Nifty touched a low of 5202.45 during the day.
The mood was so bearish that just 5 stocks out of the 30-stock strong Sensex closed in positive territory. Among them, Sun Pharmaceuticals and State Bank of India ended higher by 1.55% and 0.9% respectively. ACC and Hindustan Unilever gained about half a percent each, while NTPC edged up marginally. Nifty stocks ABB, IDFC, Cipla and BPCL closed with modest gains.
Index heavyweight Reliance Industries ended lower by 4.15%. Jaiprakash Associates lost nearly 4.5%. Tata Steel, DLF and Tata Motors ended lower by 3% - 3.5%.
ICICI Bank lost nearly 3%. Hindalco, Tata Power, Mahindra & Mahindra and Larsen & Toubro lost 2% - 2.75%. Tata Consultancy Services and Reliance Infrastructure went down by nearly 2%. Reliance Communications, HDFC, Infosys Technologies, Bharti Airtel and Wipro lost 1% - 1.75%. Maruti Suzuki, Hero Honda, ONGC, HDFC Bank, Grasim Industries and BHEL also closed on a weak note.
SAIL ended lower by over 4.5%. Unitech lost 3.85%. Ranbaxy Laboratories, Idea Cellular, Suzlon Energy, Kotak Bank, Cairn India and Axis Bank drifted down by 1.5% - 3.25%. Jindal Steel, Reliance Capital, Siemens and HCL Technologies also closed weak.
GMR Infrastructure ended lower by 6.6%. Container Corporation (down 6.5%) declined for the second successive session on weak results. India Bulls Real Estate, Bajaj Holdings, Gujarat Minerals, Aditya Birla Nuvo, Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers, Tech Mahindra, Jet Air India, Videocon Industries, Religare Enterprises, HDIL, Indian Hotels, Chambal Fertilizers and Aban Offshore also declined sharply.
Reliance Natural Resources ended stronger by 6.35% on hopes the company's legal battle with Reliance Industries at the Supreme Court would end in the next few days.
Cummins India, Bajaj Auto, Bank of Baroda, Glaxo Smithkline Consumer Healthcare, Piramal Healthcare, Asian Paints, Dabur India, Alstom Projects and Power Finance Corporation also closed on a firm note.
As several midcap and smallcap stocks too went down on selling pressure, the market breadth was extremely weak at close. Out of 2980 stocks traded on BSE, as many as 2176 stocks posted losses. 720 stocks moved higher and 84 stocks ended flat.