The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex on Thursday ended marginally lower as shares moved in a limited range on alternate, small bouts of trade ahead of the General Budget on Friday.
Marketmen adopted a cautious approach a day before the Budget even as fears of inflation in the US, the world's biggest economy, continue to rise.
The Sensex, which opened higher by about 100 points, moved between 17,921.51 and 17,690.16 points before ending marginally lower by 1.51 points down at 17,824.48.
Wider-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty oscillated between 5,302.85 and 5,227.15 points before ending higher by 16.70 points at 5,285.10.
Falling market was balanced by metal sector which surged by 330 points at 16,972.01 while the realty sector index plunged the most by 146.62 points at 9,833.10.
Ambuja Cements, a unit of Holcim Ltd, fell the most in three weeks after investors judged its recent advance as overdone. Hindalco Industries rose the most in a week as the country's biggest producer of aluminum tracked higher metal prices on the London Metal Exchange.
Among the weaker sectors, oil and gas, bankex, consumer durables, information technology and tech closed with small losses while auto, consumer goods, healthcare and PSU segment closed with gains.