In a sharp reaction to the steep fall in industrial growth for January, the stock markets came off from early highs and ended almost flat.
The 30-share Sensex on the Bombay Stock Exchange ended the day at 16,127.98 points, a mere gain of 4.83 points over Wednesday's close. National Stock Exchange index Nifty also ended barely changed at 4,872.00 from previous close.
The BSE barometer had posted handsome gains of 560 points in initial trading and touched a high of 16,683.37 points. Traders said the markets surged after US Federal Reserve's announcement of latest bailout package to the credit markets to salvage further damage of the the world's largest economy.
However, the weak industrial growth data in India pulled the Sensex sharply down, they said.
The industrial growth, as measured by Index of Industrial Production (IIP) nosedived to 5.3 per cent in January, from 11.6 per cent in the same month last year, according to data released by the government today.
Economists see the plunge in IIP as an indication of beginning of a slowdown in Asia's fast growing economy.
Marketmen said operators and retail investors triggered heavy selling in selected heavyweighted counters on fears of the economy cooling.
Metal and IT counters bore the brunt and led the fall in the Sensex from its early highs. While metal index was down by 2.39 per cent, IT ended lower by 2.15 per cent. However, realty and oil and gas indices posted gains of 1.23 per cent and 0.77 per cent respectively.
Among index-related stocks, Satyam, SBI, DLF, Hindalco and Tata Steel were the prominent losers in the range of 4-6 per cent. Among the gainers, Cipla topped the list by ending up by over 4 per cent. Bahrti Airtel, ICICI Bank, REL and Grasim gained in the range of 2-4 per cent.