Continuing its downward march for the fourth session, the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex on Monday tumbled 155 points to end at a nearly three-week low of 19,593.28 on the eve of the RBI's monetary policy review.
The index fell on selling in FMCG, PSU, metal and realty stocks, while weak Asian cues amid mixed European openings also weighed on market sentiment.
The 30-share Sensex initially touched a high of 19,751.03 and then declined on weak Asian trends to settle at 19,593.28, a fall of 154.91 points or 0.78%. That was the lowest close since 19,294.12 on July 10.
The National Stock Exchange's Nifty index fell 54.55 points, or 0.93%, to 5,831.65. The SX40 index on the MCX-SX closed at 11,695.58, down 0.81%.
"Caution was seen ahead of RBI's monetary policy," said Nidhi Saraswat, a senior research analyst at Bonanza Portfolio Ltd. "RBI has been taking measures to curb rupee weakening against dollar and market has reacted negatively to it in last few weeks, particularly the rate-sensitive stocks being the worst hit."
Fast moving consumer goods giants ITC and Hindustan Unilever, which posted Q1 earnings last week, declined after their recent rally and together contributed almost 100 points to the Sensex fall.
HDFC Bank, Dr Reddy's Laboratories, ONGC, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Industries, SBI, Coal India, Hindalco, Bajaj Auto, Sterlite Industries, Maruti Suzuki and Tata Steel also closed with losses.
Among the 13 sectoral indices, 10 closed with losses. The BSE-IT index was the top gainer after Wipro climbed 6.71% on better-than-expected Q1 results declared late on Friday and its upbeat revenue guidance for the second quarter.
The RBI's First Quarter Review of Monetary Policy is scheduled on Tuesday. Besides, the US Federal Reserve's two-day meet on July 30 and 31 on policy led operators and investors to tread cautiously.