The benchmark BSE Sensex, reversing its rally for the past two sessions, remained mostly undecided on which way to move on Thursday before it closed 97 points lower, tracking sluggishness in the global market after gloomy Chinese data added to the level of anxiety.
Though China consumer inflation for August hardened from a year ago, the producer prices cooled for the 42nd straight month, a sign that risks of deflation presisted.
Asian markets ended the day with a negative bias after Standard and Poor's downgraded Brazil's credit rating to junk grade earlier on Thursday and slashed growth forecast for Asian economies.
Caution prevailed ahead of key macro data -- index of industrial production (IIP) for July and consumer price inflation (CPI) for August -- which are due on Friday.
Uncertainty over a Fed rate hike next week also kept investors anxious. There was a late surge at the fag end after the government spoke on Thursday of the possibility of advancing the Winter Session immediately after Bihar polls to pass the GST Bill, which it proposes to roll out from April 2016, but that was not just enough to contain the damage.
The BSE Sensex, weighed down by heavy selling in blue-chips, closed at 25,622.17, down 97.41 points, or 0.38%. The 50-share NSE Nifty pared most of its losses to end lower by 30.50 points, or 0.39%, at 7,788.10.
"Indian markets opened the day in deep red in line with its global partners which nosedived on the downgrade of Brazil's credit rating by Standard & Poor's. A sharp recovery in the last half hour of trade triggered gains led by short covering," Gaurav Jain, Director, Hem Securities.
"Strengthening rupee also helped the market to recover from day's low." Hindalco plunged the most, followed by HDFC, ONGC, SBI, and Wipro.
The BSE consumer durables index was the worst hit sector even as technology, metal, PSU and IT burnt their fingers as well. There were heightened fears of selling as foreign investors net sold shares worth Rs 452.13 crore on Wednesday, provisional data showed.
On the global front, Asian markets ended lower, with Shanghai shares falling by 1.39%.
European markets were also traded down in early trade amid renewed concerns that the global economy has not got back on track to withstand higher US interest rates.