In choppy trade, the BSE benchmark Sensex today ended flat despite rising at regular intervals as market players booked profits at every opportunity.
The Sensex, which rose to 18,140.15 at the outset, fell back to 18,026, before ending with a small loss of 1.93 points at 18,048.85.
The broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty also fell by 4.15 points to 5,414.15, after shuttling between 5,443.55 and 5,408.80 during the session.
The overall bearish trend was cushioned by an upsurge in banking stocks on optimism that the hike in interest rates by lenders might improve their revenue. The banking sector index was the biggest gainer among the sectoral indices, rising by 0.95 per cent to 12,247.28.
Realty, public sector undertakings, consumer durable and the healthcare segment also registered moderate gains.
While the most valuable entity on the Sensex and trend-setter Reliance Industries dropped by Rs 5.10 to Rs 971.10, leading private lender Housing Development Finance Corp. rose after a report that its unit has bought a stake in a residential project.
The information technology sector was the worst-hit by the edgy investor sentiment, losing 0.33 per cent to 5,460.69 after the rupee registered its biggest gain in two weeks against the US dollar after overseas investors pumped funds into the Indian economy. Over 50 per cent of the software exporting companies' revenue comes from the US market.
The metal sector index also dropped by 0.21 to 15,076.99 on reports that demand from China, the world's largest consumer, might slow down.
A mixed trend in the Asian region and a higher opening in Europe this afternoon influenced the market sentiment to some extent.