Mumbai: The benchmark Sensex fell 94 points to a three-week low in a choppy session yesterday amid profit booking and weak Asian stock markets, notching up its fifth straight day of declines.
Selling by foreign institutional investors for the second day in a row on Monday also kept pressure on the market. IT stocks Infosys and TCS, along with heavyweight Reliance Industries, dragged the Sensex lower. Tata Steel, Sesa Sterlite and Hindalco were among the top losers.
Eight of the 12 Bombay Stock Exchange sectoral indices declined, led by metal and realty stocks. The S&P BSE Sensex opened on a strong note and then fell to the day's low of 20637.18. It traded in a narrow range in the negative zone.
Later, it recovered on a firm opening in European stocks, only to fall back sharply in the last half hour.
The index ended with a loss of 94.06 points, or 0.45 per cent, at 20,693.24. This was the lowest level since December 17, when it closed at 20,612.14. In five straight sessions, the Sensex has declined 477.44 points.
"Weakness in global markets and profit booking at higher levels led to selling pressure," said Rakesh Goyal, senior vice-president at Bonanza Portfolio. "Global cues and third quarterly results will dictate further market direction."
The 50-share CNX Nifty on the National Stock Exchange declined 29.20 points, or 0.47 per cent, to a three-week low of 6,162.25. Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) pulled out Rs 3.19 billion on Monday, according to provisional data with the stock exchanges. They sold shares worth Rs139 million last Friday, as per Sebi data.
There were concerns that US interest rates would rise after the smart recovery in the economy.
According to some analysts, while most emerging markets, including India, are prepared for the tapering of the US stimulus programme, they are not equipped for interest rates rising.
United States stocks closed lower on Monday, with the S&P 500 index falling for the third consecutive session after weaker-than-expected services sector data.
Asian stocks ended mixed after Janet Yellen was confirmed by the US Senate Monday to become the first woman to head the US Federal Reserve.
Key indices in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and South Korea finished higher while indices in Japan and Singapore declined. In Europe, the indices in France, Germany and UK inched up.
The government plans to offload stakes in Indian Oil and Engineers India in January, BHEL in February and HAL in March to meet its disinvestment target of Rs400 billion, economic affairs secretary Arvind Mayaram said.