Indian benchmark indices continued their losing streak on Monday, with the BSE Sensex and the NSE Nifty falling over 2% each as concerns about the rapid spread of the Omicron cases triggered sell-off in the market. Adding to it, sustained selling by foreign institutional investors (FIIs) ahead of Christmas and year-end holidays also weighed on market sentiment.

Extending fall for the second straight session, the BSE Sensex closed 1,189 points, or 2.09%, lower at 55,822, and the NSE Nifty ended at 16,614, down 371 points or 2.18%. In the bearish trade today, the benchmark Sensex declined as much as 1,879 points or 3.3% to hit an intraday low of 55,132.68, while the Nifty50 nosedived 575 points, or 3.4%, to touch a low of 16,410.20 during the session.

In line with the benchmark indices, the broader market also saw sharp sell-off. The BSE Midcap ended 3.4% lower, while the BSE Smallcap index dropped 3.3%.

The market breadth, indicating the overall strength, was negative, with 2,876 stocks declining against 839 advancing shares, while 153 remained unchanged.

On the sectoral front, all the indices closed in negative terrain, while realty and oil & gas declined the most. The BSE realty index crashed 4.74%, led by Indiabulls Real Estate, DLF, Brigade Enterprises, Sunteck Realty, and Oberoi Realty. Meanwhile, the BSE oil and gas index dropped 3.8%, led by sectoral leaders BPCL, Adani Total Gas, ONGC, HPCL, Indian Oil Corporation.

Top gainers and losers

Tata Steel, the country’s leading steel producer, topped the losers’ chart by falling 5.2%. The other top laggards included IndusInd Bank, State Bank of India, Bajaj Finance and HDFC Bank, which declined in the range of 4-3%.

The top 30 BSE shares were bleeding in red, with all index heavyweights, barring HUL and Dr. Reddy's Lab, ending in negative terrain. FMCG major Hindustan Unilever Ltd. (HUL) gained 1.7%, followed by Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, which ended 0.9% higher.

Shriram Properties drops 16% against issue price

On the initial public offering (IPO) front, real estate developer Shriram Properties made a weak debut on the bourses, with the stock listing at a 20% discount compared to the issue price of ₹118 per share. The realty stock listed at ₹94 on the BSE. Paring some of early losses, Shriram Properties share price closed 15.76% lower at ₹99.40 apiece on the BSE. The stock commenced trading on the domestic exchange after successfully raising ₹600 crore in its IPO, which received a strong response from investors.

Global equities fall as Omicron spreads

Shares in the Asia-Pacific region continued their losing momentum on Monday, following weak cues from Wall Street. The market sentiment was dented by rising cases of the Omicron variant and tighter U.S. Federal Reserve policy.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 emerged as the top laggard in the region for the second session with a 2.1% loss as investors reacted negatively to the Bank of Japan’s policy announcement. The central bank on Friday announced its decision to scale back its economic stimulus while maintaining its accommodative stance for small and midsize firms.

Japan’s Nikkei was followed by Hang Seng index in Hong Kong, which dropped 1.9%. South Korea’s Kospi ended 1.8% lower, while China’s Shanghai Composite fell over 1%.

The Straits Times Index in Singapore ended 1.2% lower, while Thailand’s Set Composite dipped 1.6%.

European markets also started the week on a bearish note amid renewed fears about fresh curbs on business and travel to combat the Covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile, all the three major U.S. indices closed lower on Friday as investors digested the Federal Reserve's decision to end its economic stimulus faster. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.48%, the S&P 500 fell 1.03%, and the tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite closed marginally lower by 0.07%.

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