Global trade war sends stocks into a free fall

A combination of global and domestic factors affected investor sentiment on Monday with the benchmark indices registering their biggest single-day fall in almost six months. While renewed concerns over an escalation of trade war between the U.S. and China pulled down global markets, the domestic markets were further spooked by the unabated fall in the rupee that touched a new low.

The 30-share Sensex lost more than 500 points during intra-day trades as most of the index heavyweights witnessed selling pressure with bank stocks facing the maximum brunt. The index ended the day lower by 467.65 points, or 1.22%, at 37,922.17. This was the biggest single-day fall for the Sensex since March 23

State Bank of India (SBI), IndusInd Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank along with HDFC Bank were among the top losers in the Sensex. While as many as 26 stocks in the Sensex pack ended in the red, the overall market breadth was also weak with almost 1,700 stocks declining as against 1,041 gainers.

Meanwhile, the broader Nifty settled at 11,438.10, down 151 points or 1.30% , its biggest single-day fall since March 16.

“Weak global cues, combined with widening trade deficit due to continuous fall in rupee, dampened the sentiment,” said Jayant Manglik, president, Religare Broking.

Reports suggest that the Donald Trump administration is preparing for a massive trade war with China by slapping tariffs on Chinese goods worth more than $500 billion. This led to most of the Asian markets trade in the red on Monday with the benchmark indices of Hong Kong, Taiwan and China losing more than 1% each.

Widening CAD

Back in India, the rupee closed at a new low of 72.45 per dollar on Monday on the back of a widening current account deficit, rising oil prices and the possible trade war. Incidentally, global financial major UBS has revised its year-end rupee forecast to 73 per dollar against the earlier forecast of 66 per dollar.

UBS had also revised its FY19 current account deficit forecast to 2.7% of the GDP from the earlier 2.5%. This, according to UBS, would put India's balance of payment deficit at about 1% of the GDP – a level seen for the first time in seven years.

In the equity market, foreign investors have been net sellers of Indian shares worth Rs. 884 crore till Friday. They remained net buyers during the previous two consecutive months, buying shares worth more than Rs. 4,000 crore.