The BSE benchmark Sensex ended flat on Monday a day ahead of the Reserve Bank of India's policy statement. Capital goods, power and public sector undertaking (PSU) stocks fell the most.
Sensex opened at 18,656.00 points and closed at 18,635.82 points, 10.48 points or 0.06% up from its previous day's close at 18,625.34 points.
Even the announcement by finance minister P Chidambaram about a five-year plan to cut India's fiscal deficit from an expected 5.3% in the current fiscal to three% by 2017 did little to cheer the markets.
Chidambaram's plan for a reduction in fiscal deficit comes a day after a major cabinet reshuffle meant to boost the government's performance and a day before the central bank's half-year policy review.
Chidambaram hoped that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would take notice of the efforts meant to contain deficit and cut key lending rates to spur growth.
However, the central bank is not expected to cut rates as high levels of food inflation restrict its options.
Overall food inflation last month stood at 7.86% against 9.62% in the corresponding period of last year. Inflation of primary articles was 8.77%.
The Sensex touched a high of 18,743.41 points and a low of 18,572.02 in intra-day trade. However, BSE midcap index was down by 28.38 points while the smallcap index was lower by 42.62 points.
On the sectoral front, the BSE capital goods index was down by 191.47 points followed by PSU index, down 40.82 points, banks index, down 36.75 points, and metal index, down 21.66 points.
The major Sensex gainers were Wipro, up 2.56% at Rs.344.75; Hero MotoCorp, up 1.95% at Rs 1,905.60; Tata Power, up 1.82% at Rs 106.55; Dr Reddys Lab, up 1.62% at Rs 1,696.15; and Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), up 1.53% at Rs 811.20.
The main losers included BHEL, down 6.19% at Rs.227.25; Sterlite Inds, down 2.28% at Rs 98.55; Tata Motors, down 1.80% at Rs 256.75; Coal India, down 1.11% at Rs 350.95; and Larsen and Toubro (L&T), down 1.08% at Rs 1,687.40.
The wider 50-scrip S&P CNX Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was flat at 1.30 points or 0.02% up at 5,665.60 points.
Among other Asian markets too, the trend remained flat -- Japan's Nikkei was down 0.04%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended trading 0.16% lower. Shanghai's Composite Index was down 0.35 points.
At closing bell in Mumbai, London's FTSE 100 was down 0.56%. German DAX and French CAC 40 were also trading 0.61 and 0.89% lower, respectively.