Sensex down 96 points to two-week lows on growing unrest in Iraq

Mumbai, Jun 20 : The benchmark Sensex fell for the third day and ended about 96 points lower today triggered by selling in the last hour of trade after wary investors appeared reluctant to hold onto positions as violence continued unabated in Iraq. After touching the day’s high at 25,276.31 at the outset, the BSE Sensex fell back to end with a fall of 96.29 points, or 0.38 per cent, at 25,105.51. It touched a low of 25,056.18 during the day. The gauge had lost 319.39 points in the previous two sessions. This is its weakest close since 25,019.51 on June 5.

For the week, the Sensex fell 122.66 points after it shed 168.29 points in the previous period. Sentiments remained somewhat subdued as cautious investors cut positions on renewed concerns over violence in Iraq, which sent global crude prices to a nine-month high levels, brokers said. The main US contract, West Texas Intermediate for July, fell 43 cents to USD 106.00 a barrel while Brent crude for August eased 34 cents to USD 114.72.

Besides, tepid monsoon forecast and slowdown in buying by foreign funds, who have been major buyers on the domestic bourses, have dampened sentiments, they said. Sectorwise, the BSE Healthcare index suffered the most by losing 0.95 per cent, followed by Auto (0.91 per cent), Capital Goods (0.84 per cent) and Power (0.78 per cent) among others. ”Participants were seen adopting a cautious stance and offloaded partial positions in the wake of tensions in the Iraq,” said Manoj Choraria, a Delhi-based stock broker.

On the similar lines, the broad-based NSE index Nifty ended 29.25 points, or 0.39 per cent, down at 7,511.45. The index shuttled between 7,560.55 and 7,497.30 intra-day. Major losers include Mahindra and Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki, SBI, ICICI Bank, Dr Reddys Lab, GAIL India, RIL, ONGC, Sesa Sterlite, Sun Pharma and Tata Power. Bucking the weak trend, Infosys, Axis Bank, Bajaj Auto, Bharti Airtel, Coal India, Tata Steel and and TCS shares gained, averting a bigger fall in the Sensex.

Meanwhile, Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) sold shares worth a net Rs 420.51 crore yesterday as per provisional data from the stock exchanges.