India's key equity indices -- Sensex and Nifty50 -- closed sharply lower on Friday as reports of a new variant of Covid-19 emerged in South Africa, though overall negative sentiment dragged the markets.

The barometer 30-scrip Sensex closed at 57,107 points, down by 1,687 points or 2.87 per cent. Similarly, the broader 50-scrip Nifty closed the day at 17,026 points, down by 509 points or 2.91 per cent.

Shares of JSW Steel, Tata Motors, Hindalco, Adani Ports, Indusind Bank were the top losers during the session, NSE data showed. As per the information available on the NSE website, stocks of these companies closed 7.48 per cent, 6.77 per cent, 6.57 per cent, 6.22 per cent and 6.19 per cent lower, respectively.


Notably, the Central government on Thursday told all the states and Union Territories to be cautious about international passengers travelling from or through Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong in view of a new Covid variant detected in South Africa.

Many other countries too have raised concerns about the potential spread of this new variant and are closely monitoring the matter.

On the other hand, despite weak broader market sentiment , pharma stocks such as Alkem Laboratories, Cadila Healthcare, Dr. Reddy's, Divi's Laboratories, Cipla among others rose considerably during the session, possibly due to the emerging of the new variant which may boost demand for pharma sector, analysts said.

Paytm shares partly recover after disappointing debut

After an initial disappointing performance post listing, the shares of One97 Communications-owned Paytm have pared some of its losses.

The payment service provider company's shares were listed on the exchanges on November 18, 2021. On the listing day, the company's shares closed 27 per cent lower at Rs 1,564. The company had an offer price of Rs 2,150.

However, by the week's end, it made a partial recovery. On Friday, the company's shares closed 1.8 per cent lower from the previous close at Rs 1,765.

Paytm boss

"After the listing at discount and steep fall in Paytm's share for two consecutive days, we have seen value buying in the stock which has pushed it higher," said Gaurav Garg, Head of Research at CapitalVia Global Research.

In the short-to-medium term, Garg expects the stock to stabilise at around Rs 1,650-1,750 levels. "For the next leg of the rally, it is to be seen how the company performs," Garg added.

According to Sachin Gupta, AVP, Research, at Choice Broking: "Technically, the stock is in recovery mode with rising volume activities... (So) we are expecting a bullish move in the stock.

"On the upside, the stock may find the resistance at around Rs 1,950/2,100 levels, while the support comes around 1,500/1,350 levels."