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Sensex slips 280 points on US tech stocks rout, halt in vaccine development

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NEW DELHI: Domestic equity indices were trading with cuts in Wednesday’s session tracking global markets following routing in tech stocks in the US. Rising tensions between US-China and bad news in vaccine development also dampened the mood.

AstraZeneca Plc paused a late-stage trial of one of the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates due to an unexplained illness in a study participant, disappointing investors who were pricing in a vaccine by the end of the year.

At 10.30 am, BSE flagship Sensex was down 280 points or 0.74 per cent at 38,082 while NSE benchmark Nifty fell 90 points or 0.84 per cent to 11,227. Pharma and media stocks saw buying while PSU banks and FMCG names were under pressure.

In the 30-share pack Sensex, Reliance Industries was the biggest gainer, up 1.14 per cent at Rs 2,131 after it said PE firm Silver Lake will pick 1.75 per cent stake in its retail arm for Rs 7,500 crore. It was followed by Asian Paints, M&M, Tech Mahindra, TCS and Bharti Airtel that gained in the range of 0-1 per cent.

ONGC was the biggest loser in the pack, down 3.49 per cent to Rs 71.90. SBI, ITC, Tata Steel, ICICI Bank and NTPC were among other major losers, falling in the range of 1-3 per cent.

Broader market indices continued their underperformance as Nifty Smallcap dipped 1.12 per cent while Nifty Midcap fell 1.05 per cent. Broadest index on NSE, Nifty 500 was down 0.59 per cent.

Nifty Pharma was the biggest sectoral gainer on NSE, rising 0.43 per cent. It was followed by Nifty Media with gains of 0.21 per cent. Nifty Bank, Nifty PSU Bank and Nifty FMCG registered losses in early trade.

Globally, Asian shares fell and oil prices hit lows not seen since June after a rout of technology shares sank Wall Street for a third consecutive day and a major drugmaker delayed testing of a coronavirus vaccine.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slid 1.12 per cent. Australian stocks dropped 2.24 per cent, while shares in China fell 1.16 per cent.

Japan’s Nikkei skidded by 1.69 per cent. US S&P 500 E-mini stock futures fell 0.01 per cent, but Nasdaq futures rose 0.72 per cent.

Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.25 per cent, the S&P 500 lost 2.78 per cent, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.11 per cent on Wall Street on Wednesday.

Among U.S. technology names, electric-car maker Tesla plunged 21.06 per cent on Tuesday, its biggest daily percentage drop, after it was excluded from a group of companies being added to the S&P 500.

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