Indian shares edged lower on Monday morning as the number of coronavirus infections in Asia’s third-largest economy showed no signs of slowing in spite of a nationwide lockdown.
The Nifty fell 2.76% to 8,421.05 by 0345 GMT and the Sensex was 2.86% lower at 28,962.47.
Positive coronavirus cases rose above 1,000 in India as of Sunday evening, government data showed, while the total number of deaths touched 27. Fresh cases were reported even as the country continued to be under a 21-day lockdown, which began on Tuesday last week.
Investor jitters around the economic impact of the virus continued despite a slew of measures by the country’s central bank on Friday, including a 75 basis-point cut in interest rates.
The Indian rupee was 0.5% weaker against the dollar at 75.165, compared to its previous close of 74.81.
Domestic investors also eagerly watched other global markets, as major economies enforced shutdowns to combat the transmission of the fast-spreading virus, while their central banks stepped up efforts to cushion the economic fallout.
Markets will likely focus on whether European cases are reaching a peak, how much of the U.S. will be put in lockdown, and whether China can avoid a second wave, said Deepak Jasani, head of retail research, HDFC Securities.
“Investors fear that the COVID-19 outbreak could bring the economy to a grinding halt.”
Meanwhile, tumbling oil prices sent MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-pacific shares outside Japan lower by 1.1% as fears increased that shutdowns due to the outbreak could last for months.
In the domestic market, the Nifty auto index shed 3.85% and was the biggest loser among sectors, followed by the Nifty metals index, which fell 3.4%.
Banks and financial stocks were also among the biggest drags, with their main sub-indexes falling 2.26% and 2.96%, respectively.
Bajaj Finance was the biggest loser among stocks on the Nifty blue-chip index, tumbling 9.8%, followed by automaker Mahindra and Mahindra, which fell 6.3%.
Drugmaker Sun Pharmaceuticals Ltd shed as much as 7.76% to an over seven-year low after the company’s manufacturing facility got a notice of “official action initiated” from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration following an inspection.
Rival drugmaker Cipla Ltd gained 3.6% and topped the gainers on the Nifty.