March 13, 2020 / 6:19 AM / a month ago

Indian stocks claw back losses after virus-fuelled crash

(Updates shares, adds analyst comment)

By Chris Thomas and Chandini Monnappa

BENGALURU, March 13 (Reuters) - Indian stocks erased most of their losses in a volatile session on Friday after a 10% crash in the main indexes on coronavirus fears triggered a rare trading halt earlier in the day.

Trading on the exchanges hit a “circuit breaker” a few minutes into Friday’s session - the first time since 2009 - as widespread panic over the coronavirus pandemic gripped global markets. Indian indexes swung wildly after the markets resumed trading at 0450 GMT.

The NSE Nifty 50 index was down 0.73% at 9,553.7 by 0548 GMT, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex traded down 0.54% at 32,611.5.

The volatility index surged 44% to its highest in over a decade.

“I don’t think this is a return of positive sentiment, markets are very volatile,” said Sujan Hajra, chief economist at Anand Rathi Securities.

“Markets are acknowledging that they are in the oversold zone so there is some buying support coming in.”

The rupee, which earlier fell to a record low of 74.5075 against the dollar, reversed losses to trade about 0.4% stronger at 73.99.

Lender Housing Development Finance Corp Ltd was the top boost to the stock indexes, jumping as much as 5.5%, while drugmaker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd surged nearly 10% and was headed for its best day in more than eight years.

The Nifty Pharma index was last up 2.5% and the Nifty Bank Index a touch higher. (Reporting by Chris Thomas and Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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