The BSE benchmark Sensex slipped from its five-week peak to settle marginally lower by 15 points on Wednesday on profit-booking in IT stocks amid concerns over the worsening situation in Europe, though gains posted by Reliance Industries and airline stocks cushioned the fall.
The 30-share Sensex, which gained 428 points in the previous three sessions, fell by 14.58 points, or 0.09%, to 16,451.47 in range-bound trade as investors offloaded IT stocks in view of the possibility of an adverse impact on their earnings due to the recession-like conditions in Europe.
In sharp contrast, energy conglomerate RIL and airline stocks rallied, giving support to the market.
The broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty lost 11.50 points, or 0.23%, to 4,955.80 in a similar fashion after moving in a range between 4,980.65 and 4,931.05.
IT stocks bore the brunt of the selling pressure in on Wednsesday's trade on expectations of a slowdown in earnings due to economic turmoil in Europe and the US.
Tata Consultancy Services, the country's largest software services provider, lost 2.62% to Rs 1,075.35, even though the company posted a rise in third quarter net profit on Tuesday.
In a similar fashion, the second-most weighted firm in the benchmark Sensex, Infosys, fell by 1.87% to Rs 2,610.55, Wipro by 2.70% to Rs 403.50 and HCL Technologies by 1.70% to Rs 417.55.
The market sentiment was dampened after the World Bank sharply lowered its global economic growth forecast for 2012 to 2.5%, citing European financial turmoil and weak growth prospects in emerging nations, including India. In addition, the mixed fortunes of other Asian stocks and a lower opening in Europe vitiated the trading sentiment at home.
However, the most-weighted firm on the Sensex, Reliance Industries, was a beacon for nervous investors amid the negative sentiment, with shares of the country's most valuable company surging by 4.94% Rs 776.90 apiece on news that the company is mulling a share buy-back. Stocks of the company lost 35% last year.
The market's fall was also cushioned by firming trend in airlines stocks after the aviation ministry said it would recommend allowing foreign airlines to buy stakes of up to 49% in domestic carriers to the government.
Stocks of Jet Airways surged by 4.96% to Rs 246.55, while Kingfisher Airlines gained 0.60% to Rs 25.25 and SpiceJet rose by 2.46% to Rs 22.90.
Meanwhile, Essar Oil slumped by 11.53% to Rs 51.40 following a court ruling that barred the refiner from deferring payment of sales tax dues.
Among the 30-BSE index-related stocks, 18 stocks closed lower, while 12 ended in the positive zone. The metal index suffered the most, losing 2.19% to 10,926.94, followed by the IT index, which fell by 2.16% to 5,513.43.