More than Rs 65,000 crore of foreign money was withdrawn from the equity market in March, making it the highest-ever sell-off by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) in a month.
Overseas investors rushed to dump equities, which are generally considered riskier, as COVID-19 pandemic gripped major economies around the world and the nationwide lockdown added to the fears of a global recession.
Benchmark indices Nifty and Sensex tumbled 23 percent each, shaving off Rs 30 lakh crore of investors' wealth in March alone.
Despite the mass exodus, about six sectors managed to attract foreign interest during the month.
The insurance sector was on the top of their shopping list, raking in Rs 568 crore data provided by National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL) shows.
Foreign investors have been net buyers in the insurance sectors in every month of the last financial year and have poured in Rs 833 crore since the beginning of 2021.
The insurance industry in Indian consists of 57 companies, of which, 24 are in the life insurance business and 33 are non-life insurers. HDFC Life Insurance, SBI Life and ICICI Prudential are some of the major listed companies in the sector.
Other sectors that FPIs bought into include consumer durables (Rs 74 crore), airport services (Rs 43 crore), commercial services & supplies (Rs 22 crore), diversified consumer services (Rs 2 crore) and telecommunications equipment (Rs 1 crore).
Meanwhile, 29 sectors lost foreign money during the month. The biggest carnage was seen in banking and other financial services, which collectively lost Rs 19,956 crore in overseas investment.
Foreign investors have remained net seller in the sector so far in 2021, withdrawing Rs 22,837 crore, most of which was taken out in March amid fears of rising non-performing asset (NPAs) due to economic disruption caused by COVID-19.
Other sectors foreign investors exited in March include oil & gas (Rs 9,764), software & services (Rs 6,181 crore), others (Rs 4,437 crore), automobile and auto components (Rs 3,585 crore).
BSE had classified around 4,700 issuers into 35 sectors. Any FPI investment outside those 4,700 issuers is classified under 'Others'.