Indian stocks suffer worst day in history as coronavirus shuts businesses, cities

(Updates to closing levels)

BENGALURU, March 23 (Reuters) - The Indian stock market on Monday suffered its worst single-day rout in history and the rupee plunged more than 1%, with investors stuck in a selling frenzy as the coronavirus disrupted businesses and forced several districts into lockdown.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index sank 12.98% to a near four-year closing low of 7,610.25, while the S&P BSE Sensex fell 13.15% to 25,981.24. The rupee hit a record low of 76.16 against the dollar and was down 1.2% at 76.09 by 1025 GMT.

Several Indian companies shut stores and factories in line with government directives and several districts went into lockdown to contain the virus. As of Sunday, India had 341 cases of coronavirus, with seven deaths.

Trading in Indian equities was curbed in the first hour of Monday’s session as the main indexes plunged 10%, and resumed 45 minutes later.

Global financial markets were also hit hard on Monday as nations resorted to lockdowns, threatening to overwhelm policymakers’ frantic efforts to cushion what is likely to be a deep global recession.

In Mumbai’s main stock indexes on Monday, financial stocks bore the brunt of the losses. The Nifty PSU Bank Index , which tracks state-owned lenders, slumped 12.69%, while the Nifty Private Bank Index plunged 17.88% to a near four-year closing low.

Top private-sector lender HDFC Bank Ltd was the biggest drag, falling as much as 13.4%.

The auto sector also took a severe beating as major automakers halted production. The Nifty Auto Index dropped 13.85%, with Maruti Suzuki India Ltd sinking nearly 17%. (Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)