The BSE benchmark Sensex on Friday fell for the third straight day by losing over 57 points on sustained selling in blue-chip stocks such as ITC, HDFC, ICICI Bank and NTPC amid weak overseas trend.

The Sensex closed 59.47 points, or 0.32 per cent down to 18,450.23, its lowest level since November. It touched the day’s low of 18,389.29. It had lost 531 points in last two trading sessions.

The broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty declined by 21.50 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 5,553.25 led by stocks of FMCG and consumer durables.

However, a steep rise in Maruti Suzuki and sugar stocks after the government partially decontrol the sugar sector saved from any major fall.

Brokers said the market remained in bear grip as foreign funds indulged in heavy selling, fearing slowdown in growth, besides a weak quarter earnings.

The foreign funds sold a net 62.8 million dollar worth of Indian shares on April 3, a second day of net outflows, according to data from the market regulator SEBI.

They said a weakening trend in Europe ahead of monthly US payroll data further influenced the market sentment.

In 30-BSE index components, 14 stocks declined led by ITC Ltd (-2.79 per cent), Infosys (-0.66 per cent), ICICI Bank (-1.11 per cent), SBI (-0.47 per cent), HDFC Ltd (-2.84 per cent), Tata Consultancy Services (—0.46 per cent) and Bharti Airtel (1/13 per cent).

The stock of Maruti Suzuki shot up by 7.23 per cent to Rs 1,405.95 and sugar stocks like Bajaj Hindustan, Shree Renuka Sugar and Balrampur sugar climbed after the government yesterday announced partially decontrol sugar sector.

The FMCG sector index suffered the most by losing 1.74 per cent to 5,723.78 followed by consumer durable by 0.78 per cent to 6,939.63. Capital goods sector index fell by 0.72 per cent to 8,914.64 and power index by 0.56 per cent to 1,647.12.

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