Erasing most of its 130-point early gain, the Sensex on Tuesday ended flat after four days of straight losses as auto, realty and power sector came under selling pressure amid a weakening trend in the rupee.
After opening 74 points higher on strong Asian cues, the BSE benchmark index rose to the day's high of 17,236.08 soon after but lost momentum from thereon.
The 30-share Sensex finally closed higher by 1.99 points at 17,105.30. The index had lost 515 points in last four days.
Brokers said a better trend in Asia and European stock markets steadied the sentiment, helping the Indian market cushion against deep losses. Global investors are betting that US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke may hint at further easing measures in a Congressional meeting on Tuesday.
In the 30-share Sensex, 17 stocks including Bajaj Auto, TCS, Bhel and ONGC ended lower while 13 scrips including Wipro, Dr. Reddy's, ITC and Bharti Airtel gained.
"After a good opening, shares succumbed to selling. Results season is characterised by stockspecific action," said Inventure Growth & Securities Head Research Milan Bavishi.
The rupee also frittered away its early gains and was trading at 55.05 levels after going up to 54.9 in morning.
Market participants said investors remained cautious about the economic prospects as deficient monsoon rain could fan inflation, still above the Reserve Bank's threshold level.
Traders said investors bought pharma stocks, considered to be a defensive sector, amid sustained weakness in the market.
However, the National Stock Exchange index Nifty ended lower by 4.40%, 0.08% to 5,192.85.
"A temporary pullback can be expected from the current level which can exhaust in the range of 5280-5300," said Shubham Agarwal, Associate VP & Senior Technical Equities Analyst, Motilal Oswal Securities.