Mumbai, Jan 22 : Profit booking, along with heavy selling pressure in the banking sector stocks, pulled the Indian benchmark equity indices lower for the second straight session on Friday.
This was the biggest single-day drop for the benchmarks in a month.
The day's correction also marked the end of an 11-week gaining streak for the frontline indices, which was the longest since 2009.
Globally, Asian stocks fell as a spike in Chinese infections sparked testing of millions in Beijing, and an urging by the government to avoid travel during February's Lunar New Year holiday.
Similarly, European stocks dropped on Friday, on rising Covid-19 cases and lockdown worries globally, and as optimism surrounding a leadership change at the White House ran out of steam.
On the domestic side, Nifty after a quiet start, dipped soon to close at session lows.
Among sectors, except auto and IT, all other sectoral indices ended in the red with banks and metals being the major losers, down more than 3 per cent each.
Financials and realty too fell more than 2.5 per cent each.
The S&P BSE Sensex plunged below the 49,000 mark on Friday.
It fell 746.22 points, or 1.50 per cent, to close at 48,878.54 as heavy selling was witnessed in banking, finance and metal stocks.
The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange closed at 14,371.90, lower by 218.45 points, or 1.5 per cent, from its previous close.
"The Nifty seems to have begun the pre-budget correction," said Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research at HDFC Securities.
"Though the week on week loss is just 0.43 per cent, the sentiments are dented severely going by the sharply adverse advance decline ratio. 14,049-14,098 is the support band for the Nifty." Siddhartha Khemka, Head - Retail Research, Motilal Oswal Financial Services, said: "Going ahead, markets may continue to remain highly volatile ahead of monthly expiry and Union Budget 2021. The ongoing earning season which kicked off on a strong note last week would further add to the volatility." "The US Fed monetary policy is due next week which would be the first one post newly inaugurated US President and thus would hold lot more significance. Overall, the long term trend of the market is positive, and thus we would advise investors to keep accumulating quality stocks on any dips. However, traders are advised to be cautious and book profit intermittently."