The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex today dropped by over 150 points to cut short three days of winning streak with investors turning cautious after a hike in petrol prices ahead of the Reserve Bank's monetary policy review on Thursday.
The 30-share Sensex fell by 151.42 points to 19,647.77 on emergence of selling in interest rate-linked banking and realty stocks. Thursday's loss partially wiped off the 550-point gain in the past three trading sessions.
In a similar fashion, the broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty lost 51.80 points to 5,892.30.
Marketmen said selling was more or less confined to banking and realty sectors ahead of RBI monetary policy review on Thursday. Investors speculated that the apex bank will signal a hike in interest rates to anchor inflationary expectations in view of petrol prices going up.
Trading sentiment was also influenced by a steep fall in the Asian region and lower opening in Europe after Moody's rating agency placed Spain on review for a possible down grade, sparking fresh worries over the Euro-zone debt crisis.
Marketmen said sentiment was also jolted by deepening crisis in the 2G spectrum lincensing scam following reports of CBI raids in several places in Tamil Nadu and residential premises of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, former TRAI Chairman Pradip Baijal.
The realty sector index suffered was the worst hit at 3.53%. Investors feared a hike in interest rate might slow down construction business and sale of homes.
Unitech suffered major losses. Unitech, the second biggest developer by assets, fell by 2.21% to Rs 61.90 after the company's mobile-phone joint venture received a government order asking it explain why the telecom licence should not be cancelled.
The banking sector index was second worst performer by losing 3.18%. ICICI Bank lost 3.65% to Rs
1,078.05 and State Bank of India 3.46% to Rs 2,696.05.
The oil and gas sector index fell by 0.09% to 10,647.96 following a hike in petrol prices.
Bucking the general weakening trend, stocks in IT and tech sectors gained on signs of US economic recovery.