MUMBAI: Market benchmark Sensex today fell to a 20-month low after plunging 266.67 points to 24,188.37, dragged down by a massive dip in exports, while RIL cracked over 5 per cent on crude slipping below USD 28 per barrel.
Moreover, muted earnings and widening trade deficit to USD 11.6 billion in December as against USD 9.1 billion in the year-ago period, further battered the market mood, which is already rattled by depreciating rupee and concerns over health of the Chinese economy.
Contracting for a 13th month in a row, Indian merchandise exports shrank 14.75 per cent in December to USD 22.2 billion due to a steep fall in shipment of petroleum products.
Oil prices, meanwhile, dipped to USD 27.67, its lowest since 2003 after lifting of sanctions now allows Iran to resume crude exports.
Resuming lower at 24,400.78, the Sensex quickly rebounded to the day's high of 24,524.85 at the outset on spurt in Tata Steel, Wipro and Hero MotoCorp.
However, it later slipped and touched a low of 24,141.99 before ending 266.67 points or 1.09 per cent lower at 24,188.37. This is the lowest closing since May 16, 2014 when the index had closed at 24,121.74.
The NSE Nifty too remained under pressure and slipped below the 7,400-mark to hit a low of 7,336.40 before settling 86.80 points or 1.17 per cent down at 7,351.
From the Sensex kitty, RIL was the worst-hit, down 5.14 per cent ahead of its quarterly earnings tomorrow, followed by Bajaj Auto at 3.67 per cent.
Others losers included Asian Paints, Cipla, Coal India, ONGC, L&T, Dr Reddy's, SBI, HDFC, Bharti Airtel, HDFC Bank, Maruti Suzuki, ICICI Bank, M&M, Infosys and NTPC.
Out of the 30-Sensex constituents, 19 ended lower. Bucking the trend were, BHEL, which gained the most at 4.29 per cent while Tata Steel surged 2.76 per cent, while TCS, HUL, Hero MotoCorp, GAIL, Adani Ports, ITC and Wipro also rose by up to 0.88 per cent.
Sectorwise, the BSE oil&gas index suffered the most by falling 3.43 per cent, followed by realty 3.16 per cent, infra 2.43 per cent, PSU 2.17 per cent, capital goods 2.07 per cent, healtcare 1.95 and power 1.77 per cent.
The broader markets too suffered with the BSE small-cap index plunging 4.05 per cent while mid-cap fell 2.72 per cent.
Globally, other Asian markets fell but Chinese indexes rallied ahead of growth data for 2015 to be released tomorrow.
Europe fell to its lowest in more than a year in early trade as crude oil sank to a 12-year low.