The Sensex on Thursday slipped 149 points,extending the drop from a record close for the fifth session, on fears of capital outflows after the US Federal Reserve decided to further cut its economic stimulus.
Weak global cues and expiry of January equity derivative contracts also affected the market sentiment, pulling down the BSE benchmark to a two-month low.
The Sensex resumed lower at 20,491.74 and continued to lose momentum to touch an intra-day low of 20,343.78, down over 300 points. However, some fag-end buying helped it halve the losses to end at 20,498.25 -- a drop of 149.05 points or 0.72% from Wednesday's close.
In the 30-share index today, 19 constituents led by ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, RIL, and SBI declined. Sesa Sterlite, Hindalco and Hero MotoCorp were among the biggest laggards.
The 11 Sensex gainers included Tata Motors and Bharti.
In five days, Sensex has lost 875 points from its record close of 21,373.66 on January 23. Today, it closed at the weakest level since 20,420.26 on November 27, 2013.
Banking, realty, metal and oil&gas led 10 of the 12 BSE sectoral indices lower. Consumer durables and auto gained.
Jignesh Chaudhary, Head of Research, Veracity Broking Services said: "Indian equity markets were burdened by Fed's decision to trim the bond buying programme by a further USD 10 billion. This resulted in weak trading in all the markets of the emerging economies and Indian markets too followed suit." Attempting to soothe frayed nerves, the Finance Ministry said the Fed's decision to trim its monetary stimulus will not affect the Indian markets and all steps would be taken by the RBI and the government to ensure financial stability.
Across the BSE, 1,714 stocks declined while 866 gained.
The 50-scrip NSE Nifty index fell 46.55 points, or 0.76%, to 6,073.70, after touching a low of 6,027.25.
Contraction in Chinese manufacturing was also among the factors behind drop in Asian markets. Indices in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Japan fell in 0.48-2.45% range. European was also trading lower in early trade as indices in France, Germany and UK eased.