The BSE Sensex fell 0.8 percent on Wednesday, led by depressed banking stocks as investors awaited Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data that is expected to confirm fears of a protracted growth slowdown in Asia's third-largest economy. 


BSE Sensex

Weighed down by turmoil overseas, rampant inflation and a series of interest rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), data from around 11 a.m. (0530 GMT) suggests the economy's growth rate, in the last quarter, is at its slowest in more than two years.

We're seeing that the market is nervous as it waits for the GDP data, said R.K. Gupta, Managing Director of Taurus Asset Management, But after it digests that, we will probably see a rebound in the later part of the day on positive news from Europe.

Growth in September is expected to have slowed to 6.9 percent, according to the median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

Shares in State Bank of India (SBI.NS_0>SBI.NS), the country's largest lender and a benchmark index heavyweight, fell by as much as 1.89 percent, while rivals ICICI Bank (ICBK.NS) shed 2.2 percent and the Housing Development and Finance Corp (HDFC.NS) was down as much as 1.63 percent. The banking sector has been hit by slower loan growth and higher defaults by customers due to rising interest rates.

Earlier, at 10:30 a.m. (0500 GMT), the main 30-share index was down 0.77 percent at 15,884.55 points. Twenty-four of its components were in the red. The benchmark, which is one of the world's worst performers this year, fell 1 percent on Tuesday, as opposition intensified to government plans to open up the country's $450 billion retail sector to large foreign chains.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, late on Tuesday, rejected calls to reverse his cabinet's decision but fierce protests from opposition parties have shut down the Parliament for six days, threatening other major reform bills.

Industrial firms like power and construction conglomerate Jaiprakash Associates (JAIA.NS), which was down 2.45 percent, and state-run power gear supplier Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd. (BHEL.NS), which fell 2.98 percent on growth concerns, were also hit.

The 50-share NSE index was down 0.83 percent at 4,765.25 points. On the broader market, declining stocks outnumbered gainers by 2.25:1 on total volume of about 136 million shares. Shares across Asia fell on Wednesday as caution set in over the chance for more progress in resolving Eurozone debt woes after officials agreed to strengthen a rescue fund and seek more aid from the International Monetary Fund.

At 10:30 a.m. (0500 GMT) the MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.54 percent and Japan's Nikkei was down 1.01 percent.

Stocks on the Move:

* Ansal Housing & Construction Ltd jumped 20 percent, its daily limit, after the firm said late on Tuesday that its board would meet on Friday to consider a buyback of shares.

* Ranbaxy Laboratories (RANB.NS) fell as much as 4.95 percent after the drugmaker did not announce a final settlement with regulators in the United States over the launch of its copy-cat version of cholesterol lowering drug Lipitor, a Pfizer Ltd. product that loses its patent on Wednesday.

* Bharti Airtel, India's biggest mobile services provider, dropped 1.7 percent after research house CLSA reduced its earnings estimates for the next two financial years.

Top Three Stocks by Volume:

* Suzlon Energy (SUZL.NS) on 6.98 million shares

* IFCI (IFCI.NS) on 5.23 million shares

* Unitech (UNTE.NS) on 4.67 million shares