A woman talks on a mobile phone in front of a logo of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in Mumbai, India on 23 May 2019. The weeks-long general election show a clear victory for BJP and, its NDA (National Democratic Alliance) coalition, which has won more than 300 of a total of 543 seats in parliament. The happiness is being witnessed in benchmark Sensex as it passed the 40,000 mark as per media report. (Photo by Himanshu Bhatt/NurPhoto)

Indian capital markets suffered their worst slump in six months on Friday after the new variant of coronavirus rattled the global markets.

The Bombay Stock Exchange Sensex fell 1,688 points to end the session at 57,107 points, while the National Stock Exchange Nifty tumbled 510 points to close at 17,026 points – the worst fall for both the indices since April 12. Investors lost a whopping 7.35 trillion rupees (US$ 98 billion) in Friday’s session.

At Sensex, IndusInd Bank was the top loser – down 6.01%, followed by Maruti, Tata Steel, NTPC, Bajaj Finance, HDFC and Titan. Only four counters managed to close in the green: Dr Reddy’s, Nestle India, Asian Paints and Tata Consultancy Services.

On a sector-wise basis, realty, metal, auto, basic materials and industrials indices fell as much as 6.42% on Friday, while investors chose safer options like healthcare stocks.

Foreign institutional investors remained net sellers in the capital market as they offloaded shares worth 23 billion rupees, according to exchange data.

The Sensex is now down 4,659 points from its record high of 61,766 on October 18. For the past two weeks, the markets have remained choppy, after a relatively calm phase for the past one year.

The new coronavirus variant, detected in South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong so far, has sent shockwaves through global markets. The virus is reportedly vaccine-resistant and has an unusual combination of mutations. Countries such as Britain and Japan have already imposed travel curbs and it has raised fears of fresh lockdowns across the globe.

The Indian Health Ministry has also issued directions to states to rigorously screen international travelers coming from and transiting through Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has designated the new Covid-19 variant B.1.1.529 as a “variant of concern” (top category risk) and named it “Omicron.”