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The Indian equity benchmarks fell sharply on Friday on the back of weak cues from other Asian markets amid a broad-based selloff. The Sensex fell as much as 471 point and Nifty 50 index dropped below its important psychological level of 17,150. Asian stock markets and the U.S. dollar struggled for traction on Friday after a rush of central bank meetings underlined the growing threat posed by a spike in global inflation, while fears about the omicron variant of COVID-19 added to a cautious mood.As of 9:42 am, the Sensex was down 335 points at 57,565 and Nifty 50 index declined 109 points to 17,140.Japan’s Nikkei was 0.85 per cent lower in early trading on Friday after rising 2.13 per cent the day before in its best day in nearly seven weeks.MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost 0.2 per cent. It is heading for a weekly decline of 1.7 per cent, and at 621.93 is only just above the year low of 615.99 set last week.Back home, Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank, HDFC, Hindustan Unilever, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Titan were among the top drags on the Sensex.Selling pressure was broad-based as all the 15 sector gauges, barring the measure of IT shares, were trading lower led by the Nifty Auto index’s nearly 2 per cent decline. Nifty Bank, Financial Services, FMCG, Media, Metal, PSU Bank, Pharma, Private Bank, Consumer Durables and Oil & Gas indices also fell between 0.8-2 per cent.Mid- and small-cap shares were underperforming their larger peers as Nifty Midcap 100 index declined 1.2 per cent and Nifty Smallcap 100 index dropped 1.3 per cent.Tata Motors was top Nifty loser, the stock fell 3.3 per cent to Rs 475. Titan, Maruti Suzuki, Asian Paints, Mahindra & Mahindra, Hindustan Unilever, IndusInd Bank, Cipla, Eicher Motors, Grasim Industries, Hero MotoCorp, Tata Consumer Products and Kotak Mahindra Bank also fell between 1.3-3.2 per cent.On the flipside, Infosys, Wipro, HCL Technologies, Tata Consultancy Services and Tech Mahindra were among the notable Nifty gainers, tracking fall in rupee against the US dollar.The overall market breadth was extremely negative as 1,75 shares were declining while 958 were advancing on the BSE.

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