BSE Sensex hits 1-1/2-mth closing low as banks, Cipla shares plunge, NSE Nifty down by 20

Sensex

Shares in Ambuja Cements Ltd fell 3.1 percent on expectations the company will post lower-than-expected earnings for the October-December quarter later in the day, dealers said.

India's Strides Arcolab Ltd ended 12.7 percent lower, after falling as much as 17.4 percent in Mumbai trading earlier on Thursday, as investors cast doubts on media reports that the drug maker may sell its injectable-medicines unit Agila Specialties.

Telecoms shares fell, tracking the sixth straight monthly fall in India's mobile phone subscriber base which declined by a net 25.88 million, or 2.9 percent, in December.

Bharti Airtel Ltd fell 2 percent, while Idea Cellular Ltd ended 2.8 percent lower.

However, among the stocks that gained, Indian auto components maker Bharat Forge rose 1 percent after it said it was forming a joint venture with Israeli defence contractor Elbit Systems to supply advanced artillery and mortar systems to the Indian military.

Shares in ACC Ltd, controlled by Swiss group Holcim , the world's second-largest cement producer, ended 0.8 percent higher after its Oct-Dec net profit, met expectations.

FACTORS TO WATCH

* Euro edges higher but vulnerable to ECB meeting

* Oil rises above $117 ahead of ECB meeting

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