Mumbai: Indian stocks fell for the sixth day, with the benchmark index completing its worst weekly loss in 15 months, on concern that political instability and limited room to cut interest rates will undermine efforts to revive growth.
The S&P BSE Sensex retreated 0.3 per cent to 18,735.60 at the close in Mumbai, its lowest level since November 26.
The index tumbled 3.6 per cent this week, the worst weekly drop since the period ended December 16, 2011, and its 30-day volatility climbed to a five-month high.
Bharti Airtel, the nation's largest mobile-phone operator, decreased 1.3 per cent. State Bank of India, the largest lender by assets, lost 1.7 per cent.
The lower house of parliament was adjourned after it failed to transact any business for the third day amid uproar over alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, prompting concern the government's efforts to revive growth may be derailed. India's central bank March 19 pared funding costs for the second time this year and said the scope for further cuts is limited.
"The mood and the environment at this point of time is extremely despondent and I don't think we're set up for any constructive bullish action," Sanjay Dutt, a director at New Delhi-based Quantum Securities, told Bloomberg India TV. "Given the relatively hawkish statement by the Reserve Bank and the political uncertainty, the best case situation is that we consolidate at this level until the macro data and the political environment start to clear out."
Bharti slid 1.3 per cent to Rs294. State Bank of India lost 1.7 per cent to Rs2,083. Tata Steel, the largest producer of the alloy, decreased 1.8 per cent to Rs321. Tata Motors, the owner of Jaguar Land Rover, lost 1.2 per cent to Rs270.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party withdrew from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's alliance on March 19, alleging his administration had worked with the Sri Lankan government to 'water down' a UN Human Rights Council resolution on alleged wartime atrocities in the island nation.
The exit left Singh's grouping 44 seats short of parliamentary majority, adding to the challenge of implementing policies.
The DMK is based in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which shares cultural and religious ties with Sri Lankan Tamils.
Foreigners still bought $76 million of domestic stocks on March 21, extending this year's purchases to $9.9 billion, data from the regulator show. Net inflows last year totaled $24.5 billion, the most among 10 Asian markets tracked by Bloomberg.
The Sensex changed direction more than 30 times, with its 30-day volatility rising to the highest since October 29. The S&P BSE Mid-Cap index slid to a six-month low, while the S&P BSE Small-Cap gauge closed at its lowest level in more than a year.
The 50-stock CNX Nifty Index lost 0.1 percent to 5,651.35. India VIX, which measures the cost of protection against losses in the Nifty, tumbled 5.9 per cent to 15.54.
"The Sensex and the Nifty comprise the biggest companies and don't reflect the nervousness seen in the broader market, which has been massacred," said Jagannadham Thunuguntla, chief strategist at SMC Global Securities in New Delhi.
The Sensex has lost 3.6 percent of its value this year, the second-worst performing benchmark index among emerging Asian nations. Stocks have slid amid the weakest economic growth in a decade, the highest inflation among major emerging markets and as more company earnings missed estimates in the three months ended on December 31 compared with the previous quarter.
The gauge trades at 12.7 times projected 12-month profits, compared with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index's 10.4 times.