Mumbai: Crashing under the weight of plummeting banking stocks, Indian equities tumbled like nine- pins today, with the benchmark Sensex falling by about 430 points to end at a nearly three-week low of 33,317.
Both indexes ended 1 pe rcent lower for the first time in 15 sessions and also marked their fifth straight session of decline.
This was the lowest closing for the BSE Sensex since December 14 when it had finished at 33,246.70 and also its biggest single-day fall since February 6, when it had lost 561.22.
Banking stocks led by State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank, Kotak Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, Federal Bank and Yes Bank fell as much as 2.77 per cent.
Investor sentiment was dampened after reports that the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) had approached other lenders that have exposure to the firms promoted by scam-tainted Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi to help in the agency's probe into the over Rs 12,000-crore PNB scam.
Banking shares came under more selling pressure after the RBI Monday said it had imposed a penalty of Rs 3 crore on Axis Bank for violation of NPA classification norms and Rs 2 crore on Indian Overseas Bank for not complying with the KYC regulations.
The 30-share Sensex commenced on a strong note at 34,047.43 and advanced to a high of 34,060.13, tracking a firm trend in other Asian markets.
It, however, slipped into a negative zone towards the fag-end to hit a low of 33,209.76 as participants booked profits at improved levels. The gauge finally settled 429.58 points, or 1.27 per cent, lower at 33,317.20.
In the last five sessions, the index has lost nearly 1,129 points.
The NSE Nifty after reclaiming the key 10,400-mark touched a high of 10,441.35 in early trade but later slipped into negative zone to hit a low of 10,215.90. It finally settled at 10,249.25, showing a sizeable loss of 109.60 points, or 1.06 per cent.
The SFIO is said to have asked senior executives from the 31 banks who have done business dealings with the firms promoted by Modi and Choksi to be present at its office in the financial capital, according to sources.