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Mumbai, March 11 (IANS) A benchmark index for Indian equities markets slumped nearly one percent Friday as lower-than-expected growth in factory output and the earthquake in Japan dampened investor-sentiment.

The 30-share sensitive index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), which opened deep in the red at 18,248.11 points, ended the day at 18,174.09 points, down 0.84 percent or 153.89 points from the previous close of 18,327.98 points.

The benchmark Sensex touched a high of 18,368.43 points and low of 18,063.29 points in the intraday.

At the National Stock Exchange (NSE), the broader 50-share S&P CNX Nifty fell 0.89 percent or 48.95 points to close at 5,445.45 points.

India’s factory output grew slower than expected at 3.7 percent in January compared to 2.53 percent during the previous month and 16.8 percent in the like month of last fiscal.

Of the broader markets, both the BSE midcap and smallcap indices slumped over a percent. The BSE midcap index closed 1.07 percent down at 6,529.28 points and the BSE smallcap index fell 1.12 percent at 7,899.81 points.

Most sectoral indices also closed in the red led by nearly two percent slump in the BSE metal index.

There was heavy selling pressure in metal, technology, IT, power, and consumer goods products.

BHEL slumped nearly four percent to Rs.1,974.70. Other major losers on the Sensex were Reliance Comm, down 3.46 percent at Rs.96.30; Reliance Infra, down 3.19 percent at Rs.604.65; Sterlite Inds, down 3.06 percent at Rs.160.15; and Jaiprakash Associates, down 2.90 percent at Rs.81.95.

Of the 30 Sensex scrips, only five closed in the positive. ONGC rose 2.14 percent at Rs.281.30. RIL, up 0.73 percent at Rs.991.60; Tata Power, up 0.55 percent at Rs.1,200; Hindustan Unilever, up 0.42 percent at Rs.277.95; and ITC, up 0.15 percent at Rs.171.25 were the Sensex gainers.

Markets plunged across the globe after a massive earthquake hit Japan, further dampening investors’ sentiments already shaken by high oil price and unrest in the Middle East.

The Japanese Nikkei slumped 1.72 percent at 10,254.40 points. A devastating earthquake hit Japan just before the close of trading at Tokyo stock exchange.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.55 percent at 23,249.80 points and China’s Shanghai Composite index closed 0.79 percent down at 2,933.80 points.

European markets also opened deep in the red. Around mid-day, the French CAC 40 was trading 1.03 percent down, the German DAX was down 1.13 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 was trading 0.59 percent lower.

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