The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex on Tuesday fell by 31 points in a volatile session as investors offloaded auto, banking and refinery stocks.
Rally in IT stocks, led by the second heaviest Infosys which reported a marginal rise in net profit for the fourth quarter, however, restricted the losses.
The Sensex slipped by 31.04 points to close at 17,821.96 points. The benchmark touched a low of 17,736.09 points.
The wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty fell by 16.75 points to 5,322.95 points.
Brokers said that investors refrained from enlarging their positions ahead of public holiday tomorrow. Fears that rising commodity prices would push up inflation and force the Reserve Bank of India to hike key rates pulled down the stocks of banks and interest-related sectors.
A weakening trend in Asian region and lower opening in the European stock markets this afternoon also influenced trading sentiment to some extent, brokers said.
Falling market received cushion as Infosys, the first Sensex Company to report earnings for the final quarter of 2009-10, rose by 3.69 per cent to Rs 2,782.35. Largest software exporter TCS jumped 2.80 per cent, while another IT giant Wipro raised by 2.45 per cent.
Leading private sector lender ICICI Bank fell by 2.37 per cent to Rs 942.10, pulling the Sensex down. Among other major losers, Hero Honda fell by 5.29 per cent, HDFC by 2.65 per cent and Sterlite Industries by 2.53 per cent.
Among sectoral indices, the auto sector index suffered the most and lost 1.32 per cent to 7,646.81 on fears the interest rate hike might dent sale of vehicles.
The banking sector index was second largest loser falling by 0.87 per cent to 10,710.62 points followed by oil and gas index by 0.58 per cent to 10,335.35 points.
The metal index lost 0.30 per cent to 18,246.22 as Sterlite, the largest copper producer, dropped 2.53 per cent to Rs 847.45. The contract price for three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange declined 0.9 per cent.
Hindalco Industries, the nation's biggest aluminum producer, lost 1.17 per cent to Rs 178.05 after the commodity prices retreated 0.6 per cent in London.
Bucking the general weak trend, stocks in IT, Teck and power sectors gained on fresh buying in select fundamentally strong stocks.
The market will be closed tomorrow on account of Ambedker Jayanti.