Stocks cap longest losing run in 6 weeks before expiry

Indian stocks dropped for the fourth day, with the benchmark index falling to a two-month low, as energy companies and lenders retreated before the expiry of monthly derivative contracts this week.

Reliance Industries, owner of the world’s largest petro refining complex, slid 1.4 per cent, dragging down a measure of energy shares for the third day. ICICI Bank paced losses among lenders and Bharat Heavy Electricals, a producer of power equipments, was the worst performer on the S&P BSE Sensex.

The Sensex lost 0.2 per cent to 28,192.02 in a fourth day of losses, the longest stretch since February 9. The gauge has slid 6.1 per cent from its March 4 peak, amid concern an increase in US interest rates may lead to outflows from emerging-market assets and as data compiled by Bloomberg showed earnings per share for the 30 Sensex companies decreased in the three months ended December quarter, for the first time in six quarters.

The rollover from Idea’s March futures contracts to April reached 42 per cent as of 3:40 pm in Mumbai, the most among Indian stock futures.

The company’s shares rallied 14 per cent this month through Friday’s close. The 50-stock CNX Nifty lost 0.2 per cent after changing direction at least 10 times. The gauge’s five-day relative strength index dropped to 25 today, below the 30 level some investors consider a signal that prices are about to rise.