The benchmark Sensex dropped 157 points to the lowest level in almost two weeks as overseas stock markets turned weak on expectations that the US Federal Reserve would start tapering its stimulus programme sooner than expected.
Consumer durables, banking and refinery sector stocks declined, while realty and capital goods shares attracted buying. HDFC, Maruti Suzuki, ONGC and Bajaj Auto were the major losers on the index.
A weak trend prevailed in Asian and European markets on concerns the Fed would reduce its bond-buying programme earlier than anticipated following initial signs of strength in the US economy. Cautious investors booked profits, leading to a fall in stocks globally, including in India.
The Sensex resumed lower and remained in negative terrain through the day to end at 20,666.15, a fall of 156.62 points or 0.75%. It was the fourth straight day of declines for the index, which closed at its lowest since October 28.
The Sensex came off an all-time closing high of 21,239.36 on Diwali to post its biggest weekly drop in seven.
The Nifty on the National Stock Exchange dropped 46.50 points, or 0.75%, to end at a 2-week low of 6,140.75. The SX40 index on the MCX Stock Exchange fell 119.6 points.
"Markets will watch out for the remaining quarterly results in the next week. Early next week, markets will also focus on the outcome of China's Plenum, where significant reforms measures are expected," said Dipen Shah, Head of Private Client Group Research at Kotak Securities.
On the BSE, HDFC Bank, Reliance Industries and TCS also fell, while Larsen & Toubro, Tata Motors and Tata Steel rose.
Among bank stocks, Punjab National Bank slumped 4.21% after Q2 profit fell 52.56%. UCO Bank, which posted a 4-fold increase in earnings, shot up 5.28%.
Brokers said the market also remained under pressure as the rupee dropped to a six-week low of 62.75 against the dollar.
In Asia, key indices in Singapore, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea fell in 0.60-1.09% range. European stocks were also lower in early trade.
In the domestic market, 21 of the 30 Sensex shares fell, led by HDFC (-3.77%), Maruti Suzuki (-2.17%), ONGC (-2.15%), Bajaj Auto (-2.04%) and HDFC Bank (-1.87%).
The gainers on the index included Tata Steel, which rose 2.86%, Larsen 1.84%, Tata Motors 1.29% and Bhel 0.74%.
Among the S&P BSE sectoral indices, consumer durables dropped 2.04%, followed by the bankex 1.27%, oil and gas 1.19% and PSU 0.69%. The realty sector index rose 1.27%, capital goods 1.15% and power 0.61%.
The market breadth remained negative as 1,350 shares declined, 1,096 advanced and 149 ruled steady. Total turnover moved down to Rs. 2,001.86 crore from Rs. 2,110.30 crore on Thursday.
Foreign institutional investors continued their buying spree and invested a net Rs. 479.24 crore in stocks yesterday, according to provisional data issued by the stock exchanges.