Sensex sheds 227.2 points, hits 52-week low

It was another wild day at the bourses today, with the Bombay Stock Exchanges Sensitive Index (Sensex) swinging through the day in a 24 per cent band. Opening 8 per cent down, recovering almost all its losses by midday, losing another 8 per cent during the day before closing at 3,549.06 to a new 52-week low - a loss of 227.24 points, or 5.81 per cent.

Markets witnessed an estimated Rs 300 billion erosion in market capitalisation. The S&P CNX Nifty also fell by 5.32 per cent to close the day at 1,923.38.

Zee Telefilms,Tips , Balaji and Mukta Arts also crashed by 8 and 16% ceilings. Zee was quoted at Rs 110 down by 5% while Balaji lost 8% to Rs 176. In other media shares, counters like Pentamedia Graphics, Crest Communications, Jain Studios, Saregama India, TV 18 and Sri Adhikari Brothers were trading at their lower limit and below, ranging from 15-8%. Tips Industries (Rs 97.60), Adlabs Films (Rs 68.10), Cinevista Communications (Rs 51.95) and Pritish Nandy Communications (Rs 27.90) hit the 8% lower limit of the circuit breaker.

The day began on a bearish note following the late Monday night sacking of all the broker-directors of BSE by market regulator Securities & Exchange Board of India (Sebi). The fall in the tech-heavy Nasdaq below the 2000-mark on Monday only added fuel to the fire. Finance minister Yashwant Sinha's proposal to introduce rolling settlement in BSE's specified section, too, contributed to the volatility, which was showing signs of cooling off in noon trading after institutions, primarily government-owned and one FII, had stepped in to lend support and ram up the Sensex to the day's high of 3777.48.

However, as soon as TV channels started flashing excerpts from a film, part of a sting operation carried out by New Delhi-based, a self styled news-views portal, showing some politicians from the ruling National Democratic Alliance in accepting kickbacks, all hell broke loose, with the Sensex plummeting to hit an intra-day low of 3436.75.

The tehelka "expose" threatens to put even the stock market crisis into the shade with the opposition baying for blood. Tehelka has captured Bharatiya Janata Party president Bangaru Laxman on camera while accepting Rs 100,000 for a party fund. Further, the president of a key coalition ally, Jaya Jaitley of the Samata Party, has accepted Rs 200,000, according to the transcript of the film. India's defence minister George Fernandes is from the Samata Party.

Although Laxman did not deny taking the money, he claimed it was for the party coffers that he accepted the money. The expose did have an almost immediate fallout. At the time of posting, Laxman had announced his resignation as BJP party president.

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