Sensex, Nifty close down; Realty stocks shine

Stock markets may open flat as investors factor-in rising protectionism

Besides, sector-specific selling pressure, especially in Idea Cellular's stocks which plunged by nearly ten per cent following major merger announcements in the telecom space, hampered investors' risk-taking appetite.

Brokers said investors booked profits after recent strong rally in stocks.

In Europe, stocks closed on a flat note on Monday after G20 finance ministers failed to agree on a commitment to keep global trade free and open and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May finally revealed that she will trigger Article 50 on March 29.

The Sensex touched a high of 29,585.05 points and a low of 29380.14 points during the intra-day trade.

In contrast, the broader markets outperformed the benchmark indices. The S&P BSE mid-cap index was down by 0.45 per cent, while the small-cap index fell by 0.19 per cent. The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index declined 0.2 percent after three days of gains. The boards of Idea Cellular Ltd and Vodafone India Ltd have approved their merger, excluding the latter's 42% stake in Indus Towers Ltd, heralding the creation of India's largest telecom company in a $23 billion deal.

European markets were trading with mixed moves, CAC 40 and DAX indices gained 0.4 per cent and 0.1 per cent respectively while FTSE 100 index slipped 0.1 per cent.

However, on the currency front, the Indian rupee continued to strengthen on the back of a weak overseas dollar.

"While FDA observations kept pharma space depressed, banking stocks were also under pressure from potential farm loan waivers", said Anand James, Chief Market Strategist, Geojit Financial Services.

In terms of investments, provisional data with exchanges showed that FIIs purchased stocks worth Rs 1,662.72 crore, whereas the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) divested scrip worth Rs 798.57 crore.

Sector-wise, the S&P IT index plunged by 144.45 points, followed by the banking index, which dipped by 100.84 points, and the Teck index, which fell by 72.29 points.

All indices closed in the red, except Capital Goods, FMCG, Consumer Durables and Auto.

Top gainers in the Sensex-30 pack: ITC (up 2 per cent), ONGC (up 1.6 per cent), Infosys (up 1.1 per cent), L&T (up 0.7 per cent) and HUL (up 0.6 per cent).

Biggest losers in the 30-share index were Dr Reddy'S Laboratories (4.36%), Axis Bank (3.28%), GAIL (India) (1.41%), Maruti Suzuki India (1.40%), Reliance Industries (1.29%), and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries (1.12%).

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