MUMBAI, India (AP) - India's stock market fell to a two-year low Monday amid signs that the U.S.-led financial crisis is spreading to Europe, intensifying worries about a global slowdown.
The benchmark Sensex sank 724.62 points, or 5.78 percent, to 11,801.70.
The declines were partly driven by foreign investors withdrawing money from the Indian market to
meet payment demands back home, analysts said.
Companies with exposure to foreign markets, falling commodities prices and shrinking financing were hit hardest Monday, with real estate, metals, and consumer durables companies leading declines.
«Fundamentally, in India there is nothing wrong compared to U.S. and European markets. It's more sentiment coupled with the fact there is a liquidity crunch,» said Mayank Shah, CEO of retail business at Anagram Stockbroking Ltd., a Mumbai brokerage.
«What the market needs to turn around is liquidity. Currently, liquidity is not there,» he said.
Foreign institutions, which drove up the Sensex last year, have sold US$9.2 billion in equities this year, according to India's securities regulator.
Domestic institutions had helped prop up the market, snapping up stocks at value prices, but Shah said domestic mutual funds are now facing redemption pressures of their own.
«They want to play it safe,» he said. «Everyone is looking at U.S. and European markets. Domestic institutions are in no hurry to buy.
The losses were widespread.
Copper producer Sterlite Industries, which is part of U.K.-listed mining major Vedanta Resources, tumbled 15.26 percent, and Tata Steel fell 11.06 percent.
Real estate developer DLF Ltd. closed down 10.33 percent, engineering company Larsen & Toubro was down 6.49 percent, and Reliance Infrastructure shed 13.93 percent.
Information technology service companies, which depend on U.S. financial services firms for much of their business, also took a hit. Infosys Technologies Ltd. fell 5.26 percent, and Wipro Ltd. fell 6.28 percent.