Indian benchmark indices fall sharply on rising COVID-19 cases

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MUMBAI, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Indian benchmark indices fell sharply on Monday morning following rising fears of COVID-19 spread that could jeopardize economic activity as sentiment remained subdued despite significant fall in global crude oil prices.

At 11:40 a.m. local time, Bombay Stock Exchange slumped by 1,658 points or 4.4. percent to 35,919 points while the broader Nifty tanked 4.1 percent or 452 points at 10,537 points as it slumped to its 52-week low. The rupee also fell sharply against the U.S. dollar on Monday.

"The Indian rupee resumed its downward journey after a day's hiatus on Friday, plummeting by 46 paise to 73.79 (provisional) against the U.S. dollar as coronavirus-panicked investors kept assessing deteriorating financial markets," said a report by Choice Broking, a domestic stock brokerage house.

Oil exploration company Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, ranked 160th in the global Fortune 500 list, was down 11.9 percent reflecting the drop in crude oil prices while India's diversified conglomerate Reliance Industries was down 9.6 percent over concerns of its deal on whether Saudi Aramco.

Investors fear that lower crude oil prices may make Saudi Aramco rethink its plan to invest money in Reliance Industries that was see to clear the latter's debt by 2021.

In August last year, Reliance Industries had entered into pact to sell a 20 percent stake in the oil-to-chemical business to the Saudi national oil company.

Meanwhile, India's federal health ministry on Monday said total number of COVID-19 in the country has risen to 42.

Indian market will be closed on Tuesday for the spring festival of colours and hence the volatility may rise in the closing session, dealers said. Enditem

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