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Sensex drops 171 points; Nifty falls below 11,300

Mumbai: The BSE Sensex languished for the second straight session on Wednesday, largely in tandem with Asian markets as a rout on Wall Street and AstraZeneca pausing its COVID-19 vaccine trials spooked investors.

A strong showing by index heavyweight Reliance Industries -- which rallied after announcing 1.75 per cent stake sale in its retail arm to US private equity firm Silver Lake Partners for Rs 7,500 crore -- was not enough to offset the weakness in banking, IT and finance counters.

After slumping 430.09 points during the day, the 30-share BSE benchmark recovered some lost ground to end at 38,193.92, down 171.43 points or 0.45 per cent.

In similar movement, the NSE Nifty settled 39.35 points or 0.35 per cent lower at 11,278.

SBI was the top loser among the Sensex constituents, tumbling 4.46 per cent, followed by Bajaj Finserv, Axis Bank, ONGC, ITC, Bajaj Finance, ICICI Bank, Kotak Bank and HDFC Bank.

On the other hand, Tata Steel, Reliance Industries, Sun Pharma, Bharti Airtel and Asian Paints were among the major gainers, climbing as much as 3.04 per cent.

BSE bankex, finance, realty, IT, industrials and FMCG indices fell up to 2.14 per cent, while energy, metal, healthcare, telecom, basic materials and power closed in the green.

Broader BSE midcap and smallcap indices fell up to 0.94 per cent.

Global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 1.33 per cent higher at USD 40.31 per barrel.

In the forex market, the rupee appreciated 5 paise to close at 73.55 against the US dollar.

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