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Indian shares drop over 2% as new virus variant spooks investors

11/26/2021 | 12:23am

BENGALURU, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Indian shares tumbled more than 2% on Friday, with losses seen across sectors, as investors fled risky assets after a new and possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant was identified in South Africa.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index was down 2.05% at 17,176.60 by 0455 GMT, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex also fell 2.05% to 57,586.16.

Scientists said the new variant may be able to evade immune responses, raising concerns about fresh outbreaks and its damage to the global economy. Some countries moved swiftly to impose travel restrictions from the nation.

The developments knocked over broader markets in Asia, which saw their sharpest drop in three months.

"We are seeing a reaction to global cues on panic around the new variant, but there doesn't seem to be any COVID-19 alarms here (in India) yet," said Samrat Dasgupta, CEO at Esquire Capital Investment Advisors.

"We may see a rebound soon as this is a very good opportunity to buy. While U.S. markets are at record highs, we are 7%-8% off our all-time highs. We had gone into over-valuation zones at 18,500, but valuations have corrected quite a bit."

Autos, banks, metals and energy stocks were the worst hit, with the sub-indexes down between 2% and 2.7%. Reliance Industries led the blue-chip Nifty's decline, falling as much as 2.4% after ending the previous session up 6%.

The Nifty Pharma Index bucked the trend to gain 2.50%. Sector leaders included Cipla Ltd and Pfizer Ltd. Cipla rose as much as 6.4% to a more than 7-month high, while Pfizer climbed to 5.7%. (Reporting by Vishwadha Chander and Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

© Reuters 2021
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