India’s stocks continued a decline following a one-day holiday, and ahead of an extended weekend, after comments Friday morning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to offer any concrete measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the nation.
The S&P BSE Sensex Index slid 1.2 per cent to 27,913.75 as of 9:57 a.m. in Mumbai, following Wednesday’s worst start to a new fiscal year since 2007. India markets are closed Monday for another holiday. The NSE Nifty 50 Index dropped by a similar magnitude Friday after Modi used a video message to the nation to ask citizens to light candles to “challenge the darkness” of the crisis and practice social distancing.
“It’s too dynamic right now for traders ahead of the long weekend,” said Dharmesh Kant, head of retail research at Indianivesh Securities Ltd. “There is a constant push and pull between signs of containment of the virus and discounting its impact on the economy.”
The nation continues to grapple with a three-week lockdown, a spike in confirmed cases, and capital flight. Foreigners pulled about $15 billion from the country’s stocks and bonds in March, the most in emerging Asia, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, as the Sensex capped its worst quarter ever. Until withdrawals by foreign funds end, “the market will sell on up ticks,” said Kant.
India’s sovereign bonds slid, with yields on benchmark 10-year debt rising 14 basis points to 6.28 per cent. The rupee fell as much as 0.8 per cent to 76.1362, close to its record low of 76.2750 seen on March 23. Both markets reopened after two days of holidays. Trading volume in India’s financial markets has thinned as thousands of traders and brokers work from home, and after banks curtailed operations during the second week of the lockdown.
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The government has already taken several steps to prop up an economy set to grow at its slowest pace in more than a decade. It has rolled out a $22.6 billion spending plan and said it will sell about $64.5 billion of bonds in the six months to September. Meanwhile, the central bank has delivered an emergency interest-rate cut and lifted restrictions on purchases of some government bonds by foreign investors.
India has confirmed 72 deaths and nearly 2,600 cases linked to the coronavirus, as thousands of health officials across the world’s second-most populous country are racing to identify people connected to at least 10 virus hotspots.
Fourteen of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. slid, led by a gauge of bank shares.
IndusInd Bank Ltd. sank the most among Sensex companies and Housing Development Finance Corp. was the biggest drag on the gauge.
Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?
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