India’s benchmark indexes Sensex and Nifty hit three-week lows on Wednesday amid sell-off by foreign funds. Foreign portfolio investors sold index futures worth Rs 2,817 crore and cash shares worth Rs 1,571 crore on Tuesday in the wake of persistent weakness in oil prices and uncertainty over the Greek political situation, provisional data showed.

The BSE Sensex ended a choppy session down 78.64 points or 0.29 percent at 26,908.82, while the broader Nifty index dropped 25.25 points or 0.31 percent to 8,102.10. Among the prominent decliners, Tata Steel, ICICI Bank, ITC, GAIL, HCL Technologies, BHEL, NMDC and Hindalco Industries fell 2-3 percent.

Lupin, which is seeking to increase the aggregate FII investment limit, declined 1.4 percent. Hero MotoCorp shares fell 1.2 percent. The two-wheeler manufacturer said the strike by transporters in Haryana has hit half of its dispatches from Gurgaon and Dharuhera plants.

Oil explorer Cairn India dropped 1.8 percent, extending Tuesday’s loss, as Brent crude prices fell below $ 50 a barrel for the first time since 2009 on supply glut worries.

However, Reliance Industries rallied 2.6 percent and ONGC added 1.6 percent after sharp losses in the previous session.

FMCG player Hindustan Unilever climbed 3.2 percent, adding to Tuesday’s 2 percent gain after Deutsche Bank raised its target price for the stock.

Maruti Suzuki India, India’s largest carmaker, gained 1.6 percent after hiking vehicle prices.

Telecom stocks closed mixed after telecom regulator Trai recommended that the Universal Service Obligation levy, a part of license fee paid by operators, should be lowered to 3 percent of the adjusted gross revenue from the current 5 percent. Bharti Airtel edged up 0.2 percent, while Idea Cellular eased 0.4 percent and Reliance Communication shed 1.3 percent.

Cox & Kings closed marginally higher after allotting warrants to promoters. Quadrant Televentures shares were locked in the 5 percent upper circuit limit. The company received permit from the Department of Telecommunications to provide internet services all over India.

On the global front, the Asian markets rose broadly, although gains were tempered by worries about a continued slump in oil prices, political instability in Greece and weak economic data out of the United States.

European stocks also steadied as bargain hunters stepped in following three days of losses. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rebounded from its lowest level in almost three weeks as data showed the euro zone’s inflation rate fell into negative territory in December for the first time since 2009, adding more pressure on the European Central Bank to announce a sovereign QE program at its next policy meeting on January 22.

by RTT Staff Writer

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