Business & Economy

Indian stocks bleed red after virus termed pandemic

By Sarwar Kashani

New Delhi, Mar 12 (efe-epa).- Indian stocks were mauled after the biggest single-day selloff on Wednesday as the blue-chip Nifty 50 crashed nearly 8.3 percent plunging to its lowest in almost three years.

Markets have been shaken globally as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 30-share BSE Sensex tanked 2,919 points, 8.1 percent less than the previous day, registering its largest one-day fall, to close at 32,778.

Nifty ended at 9,590, 950 points less than on Wednesday. It was Nifty’s lowest since June 2017.

Experts estimated that the loss in India’s stock markets, mainly attributed to down sliding investor confidence due to the coronavirus scare, meant that 11.3 trillion rupees (approximately $150 billion) of investor wealth was wiped out in the day.

“The major reason for this crash is the coronavirus scare, with no confirmed news on how many could get affected due to the virus and no cure or vaccine available as yet,” Amit Gupta, from the TradingBells stockbrokers portal, said.

All stock traded in deep red on Thursday. But the biggest losers came from finance, oil, telecom and airline sectors.

India’s top state-run lender State Bank, which dropped 13.23 percent, was the top loser on Sensex, followed by HDFC Bank that slumped 8.18 percent. India’s multinational conglomerate Reliance Industries also lost nearly 8 percent.

The market down-slide, which is feared may get worse and have a long-term impact on growth comes as the country is already battling an economic slowdown.

India’s growth forecast for the financial year that begins 1 April has been revised from an estimated 7 percent to less than 6 percent.

The country’s gross domestic product growth in the October-December quarter of the current financial year recorded 4.7 percent, according to government data released on 28 February. The rate of growth is at its lowest in seven years.

Indian stocks, taking a cue from the worldwide panic in markets, crashed hours after the World Health Organization declared the new coronavirus a pandemic.

The deadly virus has so far claimed over 4,200 lives across the globe and gripped some 115 countries.

Markets also took a blow when United States President Donald Trump announced a 30-day ban on all travel to the US from Europe, except for the United Kingdom. The travel ban begins Friday.

“Fresh travel bans across nations are contributing to the fears that economic impact will be much larger than earlier estimates,” Gupta said.

India too announced “more stringent measures” to restrict international travel and “ensure that the spread of coronavirus is restricted”, Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar told the lower house of India’s parliament.

The government said 73 cases are now confirmed in India.

“All existing visas issued to nationals of any country…stand suspended till April 15,” the minister said, barring those visas issued to diplomats, officials of United Nations and other international organizations for employment and projects.

The minister said all incoming travellers, including Indian nationals arriving from any destination and having visited China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain, and Germany, shall be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days.

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