Snapping the two-day rally, the Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex on Thursday closed down nearly 21 points but auto stocks gained on anticipation of hike in sales after cut in prices of petrol and diesel.
The bellwether index surrendered its initial gains after a poor opening in European bourses. A moderate rise in inflation also weighed against buying support.
The BSE barometer closed the day down by 21.19 points or 0.23 per cent at 9,236.28
The broad-based 50-issue Nifty of the National Stock Exchange also fell back by 25.55 points or 0.90 per cent.
Realty shares which had a promising start, however, later suffered a setback on heavy offloading while capital goods shares also attracted profit-selling.
Auto stocks, led by Maruti Suzuki which today posted a 54 per cent dip in profit for the third quarter, surged on anticipation of hike in sales after cut in prices of petrol and diesel. Maruti Suzuki gained 4.67 per cent.
The government late night yesterday announced a cut of Rs 5 per litre in petrol prices and Rs 2 a litre in diesel Another auto major M & M also closed higher by 4.23 per cent.
Brokers attributed the early rally to firm Asian trends due to the smart rise on the Wall Street overnight and also heavy buying by Domestic Institutional Investors (DIIs).
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite Index spurted by 2.46 per cent and 3.55 per cent respectively.
Besides Singapore, which ended in negative terrain, all other Asian indices finished the day with gains.
DIIs bought shares worth Rs 601.88 crore on January 28 while Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) continued their selling spree and pulled out Rs 217.32 crore on the same day as per provisional figures.
However, European markets resumed lower, dragging down by banking and commodity sectors.