Indian equity benchmarks continued their southward journey for the second straight trading session and ended near day's low on Friday, as investors were still on the back foot amid the rising cases of the coronavirus pandemic in the country. The Nikkei Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, compiled by IHS Markit, declined to 51.8 in March from February's 54.5, its lowest since November but still above the 50-mark that separates growth from contraction for a 32nd month. Some cautiousness also came as Fitch Solutions stated that India's fiscal deficit in 2020-21 may shoot up to 6.2% of the GDP from 3.5% government estimate as a fallout of the Covid-19 economic stimulus package.
Adding some pessimism, the Ministry of Finance in its latest data has showed that Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections in March 2020 slipped below the psychological Rs 1 lakh crore-mark for the first time in four months to Rs 97,597 crore as COVID-19 lockdown that shut most businesses compounded tax collection woes in an already sluggish economy. The street overlooked report that Industry body ASSOCHAM urged the government to roll out a $100-120 billion stimulus package to help revive all sectors of the economy, which has been battered by the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent nationwide lockdown.