Sensex, Nifty end lower on fears of lockdown extension
By Chandini Monnappa
BENGALURU (Reuters) – Indian stocks closed lower on Wednesday as investors locked in some recent gains amid fears of an extension of the coronavirus-led lockdown and its impact on business.
Senior officials told Reuters earlier on Wednesday that India’s financial hub Mumbai was set to extend lockdown measures until at least April 30.
The market see-sawed through the day, with the Nifty closing 0.49% lower at 8,748.75 and the Sensex ending 0.58% lower at 29,893.15.
“Globally, things are not great, it is very volatile, there will be pressure and some profit-taking,” said Neeraj Dewan, director at Quantum Securities in New Delhi.
“There are fears about the rising number of cases and probable extension of the lockdown, too.”
Global stocks turned negative with the pan-European STOXX 600 index dipping 0.7% and London’s FTSE 100 falling 0.9%. U.S. futures were also lower.
Local media reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested on Wednesday that the lockdown will be extended and restrictions will not be lifted in one go after April 14.
The lockdown has already brought economic activity to a juddering halt and shaved over 23% off Indian stocks in March, with analysts saying an extension would mean more trouble for the market.
As of Wednesday, India reported over 4,500 infections and nearly 150 deaths.
The Nifty bank index closed 0.6% lower and the Nifty IT index slipped 0.77%.
However, the Nifty pharma index remained in positive territory, trimming gains to settle 3.5% higher.
(Reporting by Chandini Monnappa; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)