The Indian equity benchmarks fell for a fourth session on Wednesday as investors looked to the U.S. Federal Reserve for signs on the pace of tapering, while recent debutant Paytm slid after a lock-in period for institutional investors expired.
The NSE Nifty 50 index was down 0.66 at 17,210 by 12:51 pm, with IT stocks leading the fall. The S&P BSE Sensex slipped 0.63 per cent to 57,752.
The blue-chip indexes have declined more than 7 per cent from record highs hit in October, but are still outperforming Asian peers with gains of more than 21 per cent so far this year.
Investors were looking for clues on when the Fed will stop buying assets and start raising interest rates, while a rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant also weighed on sentiment.
“There is a palpable fear about a ‘Powell Pivot’ and Fed’s pace of unwinding the taper,” said independent market analyst Ajay Bodke. Commentary about U.S. rate increases would be key as they could potentially lead to fund outflows from countries with a twin deficit like India, he added.
The Indian rupee slipped as much as 0.3 per cent to 76.11 against the dollar, its weakest level since June 2020.
A lack of concern among the public about the rapid spread of Omicron also raises the risk of overwhelming the healthcare system again, Bodke said.
In Mumbai, the Nifty IT index dropped up to 1.5 per cent, with Tata Consultancy Services falling as much as 1.8 per cent to a one-week low.
Heavyweight shadow lenders Bajaj Finance and Bajaj Finserv slipped 2 per cent and 1.2 per cent, respectively.
One97 Communications, parent of digital payments firm Paytm, dropped 13% to its lowest since Nov. 22, following a dismal market debut on Nov. 18.
Meanwhile, SpiceJet rose as much as 3.4 per cent after the budget airline said it entered a settlement agreement with a Canadian aircraft manufacturer.