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Sensex slips to over 5-week low; ` settles 2 paise higher against $

Sensex slips to over 5-week low; ` settles 2 paise higher against $
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Mumbai: The market gauge Sensex on Wednesday fell for the third straight session to mark its lowest level in over five weeks as participants moved to the sidelines exercising caution ahead of the federal Budget.

At close, the 30-share Sensex was down 208.43 points, or 0.50 per cent, at 41,115.38 — the lowest level for the index since December 16. After starting the session on a high note, the BSE gauge kept on shedding gains and touched the day's low of 41,059.04.

Likewise, the broader NSE Nifty settled 62.95 points, or 0.52 per cent, lower at 12,106.90 — marking its fourth straight session loss.

Both benchmark indices bore the brunt of heavy selling mainly in energy, financial and auto stocks. A subdued corporate earnings season and banks' stressed assets situation have made investors realign their investment strategy, analysts said adding that the upcoming Budget will decide the course of the market in the near to mid-term.

Further, global agencies slashing India's growth outlook is also weighing on domestic investor sentiment, they added.

On the Sensex chart, ONGC was the top loser, tumbling 5.13 per cent, followed by NTPC, Kotak Bank, Maruti Suzuki, HDFC, Asian Paints, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank.

On the other hand, Nestle India, TCS, Infosys, HCL Tech, SBI and Bharti Airtel ended with gains of up to 1.86 per cent.

Sectorally, BSE metal, oil and gas and power were among the major losers -- dropping as much as 1.57 per cent.

While BSE IT, teck and telecom indices ended up to 1.09 per cent higher.

In the broader market, midcap and smallcap indices fell up to 0.32 per cent.

On the currency front, the Indian rupee closed marginally up at 71.19 against the US dollar.

Global benchmark Brent crude fell 0.67 per cent to $64.16 per barrel. Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul ended with gains.

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