Millennium Post

Markets recoil as Mid-East tensions flare up; post weekly losses

Mumbai: Indian equity indices tumbled in tandem with global markets on Friday after the killing of a top Iranian general by the US ratcheted up geopolitical tensions, triggering a flight from riskier assets.

After dropping over 286 points intra-day, the 30-share BSE Sensex ended 162.03 points, or 0.39 per cent, lower at 41,464.61.

Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty closed 55.55 points, or 0.45 per cent, down at 12,226.65.

Global equities swooned after top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq, marking a dangerous escalation in Middle East tensions.

World leaders reacted to the killing with alarm, even as Iran vowed "severe revenge".

Safe-haven assets like gold and the Japanese yen strengthened as investors assessed the risk dynamics.

Brent crude futures surged 4.4 per cent to $69.16 per barrel on supply concerns.

Back home, Asian Paints was the top loser in the Sensex pack, dropping 2.16 per cent, followed by Axis Bank, Bajaj Auto, SBI, NTPC and Bajaj Finance.

On the other hand, Sun Pharma, TCS, HCL Tech, Infosys, Tech Mahindra and Bharti Airtel rose up to 2.08 per cent.

During the week, the Sensex slipped 110.53 points or 0.26 per cent, while the Nifty lost 19.15 points or 0.15 per cent.

"Investors turned cautious as tensions emerge in the Middle East. Crude oil prices rose while strong dollar held IT and pharma stocks higher. With market testing new highs, emergence of geopolitical tensions could force people to book some profits.

"Crude prices could turn volatile due to risk of possible retaliation from Iran which could impact the performance in the short-term," said Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services.

BSE power, auto, bankex, finance, metal, utilities and basic materials indices skidded up to 1.20 per cent, while IT, teck and healthcare rose up to 1.52 per cent.

Broader BSE Midcap index settled 0.45 per cent lower, while the smallcap gauge closed in the green.

In rest of Asia, Shanghai and Hong Kong bourses ended in the red, while Seoul settled a tad higher.

Stock exchanges in Europe opened significantly lower.

On the currency front, the rupee depreciated 37 paise against the US dollar to 71.75 (intra-day).

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