The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex fell for the second straight session on Thursday after industrial output dropped most in almost 16 years.
The Sensex, which declined 29 points in the previous day's trading, fell further by 152.71 points at 9,465.83 on heavy selling by funds in bluechip stocks led by the software, refinery and heavy machinery segments.
The key index touched the day's low of 9,445.54 and a high of 9,580.13 points.
In similar fashion, the 50-share National Stock Exchange index Nifty fell by 32.65 points at 2,893.05, after moving between 2,886.55 and 2,939.00 points during the day.
Output at factories, utilities and mines dropped two per cent from a year earlier after a revised 1.7 per cent gain in November. Manufacturing, which accounts for about 80 per cent of the total output, fell 2.1 per cent in December against 1.7 per cent gain in November.
Selling pressure continued and even reports of a steep fall in the inflation rate failed to boost trading sentiment to any extent.
Infosys Technologies-led software exporters ended lower on concerns that US measures to stem the financial crisis will fail to boost growth in the industry’s biggest market. The country's over 60 per cent software revenue comes from the US market.
Reduction in fuel prices and cheaper food items like tea and edible oils pulled down inflation to a year's low of 4.39 per cent during the weekend January 31 from 5.07 per cent a week ago.
Among major losers from the Sensex pack, Jaiprakash Associates declined 4.76 per cent, Ranbaxy by 3.82 per cent, Bharti Airtel by 3.52 per cent, Infosys Tech by 3.39 per cent, ICICI Bank by 3.24 per cent and Maruti Suzuki by 2.99 per cent.
However, M&M rose by 6.86 per cent, DLF by 3.58 per cent and Rel Infra by 1.57 per cent.
Contrary to general trends, some realty and auto counters attracted good buying. The market is now awaiting the outcome of the interim budget, to be presented on February 16.
Although the index ended in the red, buying in small-cap and mid-cap counters helped the market breadth remain positive with 1,309 counters scoring gains against 1,090 losses at close on the BSE.
The trading volume was relatively low at Rs 3,212.26 crore from Rs 3,280.70 crore on Wednesday. United Spirits was the top-traded share with the highest turnover of Rs 251.09 crore, followed by RIL (Rs 187.70 crore), Educomp Sol (Rs 153.79 crore) and Rel Infra (Rs 132.11 crore).
The BSE-100 index also dropped by 60.67 points or 1.24 per cent, to 4,817.62 from 4,878.29 previously.