The BSE Sensex erased mid-session gains and fell for the third consecutive day to 19,537, down 21 points, on selling pressure amid high global oil prices.
Meanwhile, further easing of food inflation to 4-month low wasn't a strong enough positive for investors to sustain intra-day gains.
The 30-share Bombay Stock Exchange index, Sensex, initially fell to day's low of 19,537.02 as investors booked profits amid apprehensions of a hike in interest rates as crude oil prices hover at 2-1/2-year highs.
It recovered to 19,665.09 on fresh buying in Realty, Capital Goods, Healthcare, Banking and Metal amid the release of food inflation data, showing a declining trend.
However, it ended the day at 19,591,18 -- a loss of 21.02 points or 0.11 per cent from its last close. Food inflation fell to 9.18 per cent for the week ended March 26, the lowest level in almost four months, on the back of a decline in the prices of pulses.
The NSE 50-share Nifty also moved down by 6.05 points or 0.10 per cent to finish at 5,885.70. IT pivotals dropped as investors felt that a firming rupee could dent guidance on software exports in the coming quarters.
A firm rupee adversely affects operating profit margins of IT firms as the sector derives majority share of its revenue from exports. Metal stocks rose as prices rose on the London Metal Exchange yesterday. Banking stocks also ended higher on expectation of good Q4 results. "High crude oil prices, eurozone debt worries and growing speculation of a rate hike... dampened the sentiment.
IT, Oil & Gas and Telecom stocks were among the major laggards," IIFL Head of Research (India Private Clients) Amar Ambani said.
Among the sectoral indices, the BSE-IT index moved down by 0.71 per cent, the BSE-Oil&Gas by 0.49 per cent, the BSE-Teck by 0.42 per cent and the BSE-PSU by 0.31 per cent.
However, the BSE-Realty index shot up by 1.12 per cent, the BSE-Capital Goods by 0.53 per cent, the BSE-Healthcare by 0.42 per cent, the Bankex by 0.25 per cent and BSE-Metal by 0.14 per cent. Small-cap and Mid-cap indices also finished higher by 1.25 per cent and 0.98 per cent respectively.
Major losers from the Sensex pack were NTPC 2.61 per cent, ONGC 2.10 per cent, TCS 2.00 per cent, Maruti Suzukui 1.20 per cent and Sterlite Ind 1.16 per cent. However, HDFC shot up by 2.31 per cent, Hindalco 1.79 per cent, Wipro 1.21 per cent, Bharti Airtel 0.92 per cent and Tata Power 0.92 per cent. The total market breadth continued to be strong as 1,911 stocks finishing with gains while 1,020 stocks ending with losses on BSE in view of renewed buying mainly in Small cap and Midcap shares.
The total turnover fell to Rs 3,509.62 crore from the yesterday's closing of Rs 3,949.60 crore. TTK prestige showed the highest turnover of Rs 99.31 crore, followed by State Bank Of India (93.31 crore), Lovable Lingerie (Rs 90.04 crore), BF Utilities (Rs 73.58 crore) and Unitech (Rs 49.28 crore).