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Sensex ends 581 pts lower; Nifty below 8,3001

Mumbai: Equity benchmark Sensex ended 581 points lower in a highly volatile session on Thursday amid heightened fears of a global recession triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The rupee plummeted 81 paise to 75.07 against the US dollar during the day.

After briefly turning positive in afternoon trade, domestic indices fell in tandem with Asian peers, with the BSE barometer Sensex settling 581.28 points or 2.01 per cent lower at 28,288.23. It swung over 2,656.07 points through the session.

Similarly, the NSE Nifty settled 205.35 points, or 2.42 per cent, down at 8,263.45, after dropping below the 7,900 level intra-day.

Bajaj Finance was the top loser in the Sensex pack, tanking over 10 per cent, followed by Axis Bank, Maruti, M&M, Tech Mahindra and ONGC.

The gainers included ITC, Bharti Airtel, Kotak Bank and Hero MotoCorp.

Indian benchmark indices opened in negative following subdued trades in Asian peers and US markets, said Narendra Solanki, Head- Equity Research (Fundamental), Anand Rathi Shares & Stock Brokers.

"Global markets continued to trade with negative bias and high volatility amid fears over the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic which continues to weigh on investor sentiments. During the afternoon session the markets showed marginal pullback but largely remained short-lived," he added.

According to traders, stimulus packages by global central banks and governments failed to lift investor sentiment in Asia, stoking the already-peaking fears of an economic recession.

South Korea's Kospi was the worst-hit index in the continent, plunging over 8 per cent, followed by Hang Seng, Nikkei and Shanghai Compositive Index.

Bourses in Europe, however, turned positive after the European Central Bank (ECB) announced a surprise EUR 750-billion stimulus package.

Faced with growing economic shutdowns, the ECB on Wednesday announced a surprise EUR 750-billion scheme to purchase government and corporate bonds, as it joined other central banks in stepping up efforts to contain the economic damage from the new coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Brent crude oil futures rebounded 5.55 per cent to USD 26.26 per barrel.

The number of global coronavirus infections has shot past 2,00,000. Worldwide fatalities topped 8,000.

The total active Covid-19 cases in India stood at 148 on Thursday after 18 fresh cases were reported from various parts of the country, according to the Health Ministry.

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