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After opening on a weak note, the Indian indices later moved completely underwater. Heavy selling pressure caused investors to book profits due to concerns on the rising prices of crude oil which have once again hit the US$ 100 plus levels. Inflationary fears, closing derivative positions and jitters ahead of the Union budget all led to significant selling pressure. These pushed the indices well into the negative zone. While the BSE-Sensex closed lower by around 546 points (down 3%), the NSE-Nifty closed lower by around 175 points (down 3.2%). The BSE Midcap and the BSE Small cap were also subject to similar treatment and were also down close to 3%. Losses were largely seen in banking, consumer durables, and engineering stocks. Oil and gas and auto stocks were the only ones to close in positive territory. However, none of the indices could escape a coat of red.

As regards major global markets, all Asian indices closed negative on the back of weak global sentiments. China however bucked the trend. European indices also opened in the red. The rupee was trading at Rs 45.49 to the dollar at the time of writing.

India's food inflation accelerated in February to 11.49% in the week ending February 12, this comes in higher than the 11.05% rate clocked in the previous week. This was due to rising prices of milk and fruits. Food inflation in the country has stayed high despite a good monsoon, due to supply constraints and inadequate food storage facilities. These are long term concerns which cannot be solved immediately. Now adding to the common man's woes are higher global oil prices. These have now hit a 2.5 year peak on the back of political unrest in the Middle East and North African region. High fuel prices lead to higher fuel inflation, and may also cause food prices to increase based on transportation costs. The fuel price index climbed 12.14% in the year to February 12, higher than 11.92% previously according to government data.

Tech Mahindra won a multi-million dollar IT contract from Vodafone's telecom operations in Qatar. The telecom major has around 700,000 subscribers in Qatar. The contract will cover application development and maintenance (ADM), infrastructure management as well as other services. The value of the deal was however not disclosed. IBM was also one of the bidders for the contract. Hewlett Packard (NYSE:HPQ), Infosys (NYSE:INFY) and TCS had also reportedly bid for the contract. The stock however closed negative in a weak market.

Tata Steel (OTC:TATLY) recently announced that steel prices will continue to increase in line with a rise in costs of raw materials. Demand however may not see much pressure. Steel is used widely in the construction industry including roads, railways, infrastructure, buildings etc. One of the main reasons for higher raw materials is due to increased prices of coking coal. The price of spot coking coal is rising as Queensland; the largest coal producing province in Australia has been battered by its worst floods in a few decades.

Source: India Markets Thursday Wrap-Up: Oil Moves Up, Sensex Bleeds 3%