The benchmark BSE Sensex on Thursday settled marginally lower by 28 points at 27,809.35 as market remained cautious on concerns over poor quarterly earnings despite prevailing rate cut hopes.
Participants were guarded ahead of corporate earning numbers of State Bank of India and ITC, traders said. Profit-booking in some blue-chips after they reported less-than-expected quarterly numbers kept trading range bound throughout the day, they added.
"In absence of any major cues, equity benchmarks consolidated in a narrow range...mixed cues from global front alongside with prevailing cautiousness among the investors, triggered profit taking," said Jayant Manglik, President of Retail distribution at Religare Securities.
Meanwhile, Citigroup on Thursday lowered its 2015-end Sensex target to 32,200 points, saying investors' faith in Indian markets is turning fickle amid a growing perception that the government has got "little logjammed" on various reforms.
The 30-share index resumed higher at 27,885.36 and moved up to 27,911.44 in the early trade on increased capital inflows amid a mixed global cues.
However, on selling pressure at higher levels in the later half of the session dragged down the index to 27,712.73 before ending at 27,809.35, down 27.86 points or 0.10%.
The NSE Nifty ended 2.25 points or 0.03% down at 8,421 after hitting the day's high of 8,446.35 and a low of 8,320.50 during the session.
On Sensex, Tata Steel suffered the most by plunging 5.11% after it reported a consolidated net loss of Rs 5,674.29 crore for the quarter ended March 31.
Selling was also seen in stocks such as Vedanta, HDFC, Cipla, ICICI Bank, ITC, SBI and Maruti Suzuki.
Foreign portfolio investors bought shares worth Rs 123.49 crore on Wednesday and domestic institutional investors purchased shares worth Rs 103.58 crore.
Asian stocks settled mixed as indices in Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan fell by 0.22 to 1.10% while Japan, Singapore and China rose by 0.01 to 1.87%.
European stocks were trading lower after the latest data showed the euro zone economy slowed for the second straight month in May.
Indices in France and Germany declined by 0.35% to 0.38% while the UK's FTSE firmed up by 0.05%.
"...local equity market traded range bound to slightly weak, as profit-booking was seen in the market. Also, investors preferred to stay away from the market ahead of some important US data due for the day," said Jignesh Chaudhary, head of reserach at Veracity Broking Services.
Of 30 Sensex counters, 14 ended lower and 15 rose, while TCS settled unchanged.
Major losers were Tata Steel (5.11%), Vedanta (3.29%), Cipla (1.98%), ICICI Bank (1.68%), ITC (1.53%), Bharti Airtel (1.50%), Tata Power (1.30%) and Reliance (1.16%). However, Bajaj Auto was the biggest gainer with a rise of 6.94%, followed by Coal India 3.51%, Axis Bank 2.19%, Sun Pharma 1.52%, Larsen 1.50%, Tata Motors 1.13% and HUL 1.12%.
Among the BSE sectoral indices, FMCG fell by 0.76%, followed by power 0.61 and refinery 0.46%, while realty rose 0.96%, auto 0.80% and capital goods 0.53%.
Total market breadth turned negative as 1,507 stocks closed lower, 1,184 finished higher and 130 ruled steady. The total turnover rose to Rs 3,724.66 crore from 2,763.99 crore on Wednesday.