The rise in geopolitical tension following drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities and fear of a steep rise in crude oil prices kept investors away from the Indian stock markets with benchmark indices continuing to fall for a second consecutive day.

Sensex, the Bombay Stock Exchange’s benchmark equity index, slumped nearly 650 points, while the 50-stock Nifty index on the National Stock Exchange lost all gains made so far this year as investor appetite for risky assets soured following the attacks in Saudi Arabia.

On Tuesday, Sensex closed 1.73% or 642.22 points down at 36481.09 points, while the Nifty 50 ended at 10,817.60 points, 185.90 points down or 1.69% lower.

After the latest fall in the market, year-to-date returns for the Nifty slipped into negative territory once again and declined by 0.4%, while those of the Sensex were marginally positive with a gain of 1.14%.

Only three of 30 stocks on the Sensex ended in positive territory on Tuesday, while 44 of the 50 stocks in the Nifty incurred losses.

Also read: RBI concerned about surge in oil prices

In the broader market on Tuesday, Bombay Stock Exchange’s S&P BSE MidCap index slipped 241 points to 13,387, while the S&P BSE SmallCap index lost 241 points to close at 12,855. All sector indices on the National Stock Exchange ended in the red.

Selling spree

Foreign portfolio investors sold shares worth more 8.08 billion rupees (US$113 million) on Tuesday. The selling rally by foreign portfolio investors is now near the $5-billion mark for the quarter.

This is one of the highest pull-outs by overseas investors for a three-month period, the Business Standard reported.

Market experts feel the sentiment is expected to remain weak in coming sessions as investors fear that Saudi Arabia may carry out retaliatory attacks. India relies on imports for over 70% of its oil needs.

Even before the Saudi crisis, Indian stock markets were lackluster after the country’s gross domestic product growth plunged to six-year lows.