Despite healthy macro-economic indicators, the Indian equity markets turned volatile and gave up gains during the week over prospects of political instability, along with the ongoing turmoil in the banking sector and weak global cues.
On a weekly basis, the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE slipped by 131.14 points or 0.39 per cent to close at 33,176 points.
The wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed trade at 10,195.15 points -- down 31.7 points or 0.31 per cent from its previous week's close.
"Domestic markets remained volatile amid sluggish global cues and trade war concerns, weighed by oil and technology stocks," D.K. Aggarwal, Chairman and Managing Director of SMC Investments and Advisors, told IANS.
"Also, the sentiments got further dented amid political upheaval after the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) formally decided to quit the NDA government. However, fertiliser stocks gained after the continuation of a government subsidy for urea," said Aggarwal.
According to Gaurav Jain, Director at Hem Securities, robust industrial production growth in January coupled with the slowing down of retail inflation in February were among the major factors that propped up sentiments during the week.
Official data released during the week showed that India's factory production growth in January stood at 7.5 per cent -- double the 3.5 per cent recorded in the same month last year -- while retail inflation for February eased down to 4.4 per cent.
"However, profit booking coupled with reports that the country's monsoon could be below normal due to El Nino impact, caused some panic off-loading in the market towards the end of the week, erasing gains," Jain told IANS.
"Political instability after TDP broke ties with the ruling NDA added to the woes. On the global front, traders are watching the tariff issue which is hogging the market sentiments," he added.
On the currency front, the rupee strengthened by 24 paise to close at 64.93 against the US dollar from its previous week's close at 65.17.
"Volatility has become the name of the game for equity markets in India of late and our expectations are that this may persist for some more time this year even as the structural uptrend in the market remains intact," said Shibani Kurian, Senior Vice President and Head of Equity Research, Kotak Mutual Fund.
"During the week, market participants continued to grapple with news flow relating to the fraud at PNB (Punjab National Bank) and balance sheet stress for the banking system as a whole," Kurian told IANS.
Provisional figures from the stock exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors FIIs purchased scrips worth Rs 6,288.23 crore and the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) worth Rs 202.69 crore during the week.
Figures from the National Securities Depository (NSDL) revealed that foreign portfolio investors invested in equities worth Rs 6,713.73 crore, or $324.81 million, during March 12-16.
The top weekly Sensex gainers were: Bharti Airtel (up 4.04 per cent at Rs 418.20); Wipro (up 3.70 per cent at Rs 295.75); Axis Bank (up 3.58 per cent at Rs 523.45); Yes Bank (up 3.11 per cent at Rs 312.90); and ICICI Bank (up 1.84 per cent at Rs 298.10).
The losers were: Coal India (down 8.53 per cent at Rs 278.70); Tata Consultancy Services (down 6.89 per cent at Rs 2,825.50); Kotak Bank (down 2.21 per cent at Rs 1,061); Larsen and Toubro (down 1.75 per cent at Rs 1,267.60); and Adani Ports (down 1.66 per cent at Rs 371.05).