The BSE Sensex on Monday slipped 18 points, despite sustained capital inflows, as top heavyweight Reliance Industries fell on below-expected earnings amid lack of direction from overseas markets.
Petrochem giant RIL was the top loser from the Sensex pack, falling 2.97%, on lower-than-expected fourth quarter (FY'11) results announced by the company on Thursday -- after markets closed for the week.
As a result, the sectoral BSE-Oil & Gas index dipped 180.16 points or 1.75%.
The company had posted 14% growth in the net profit for the fourth quarter of 2010-11, as natural gas production from its mainstay field declined.
However, rise in index-scrips like Sterlite Ind(4.40 pc), SBI (2.06%), Maruti Suzuki (1.53%),Infosys Tech (1.13%), L&T (1.03%) and BHEL (0.84%) cushioned the Sensex fall.
The 30-share Bombay Stock Exchange barometer moved most of the day in the positive terrain but fag-end selling pulled it down to settle the day at 19,584.31, a fall of 17.92 points or 0.09%.
In the previous three straight sessions, it had shot up 511.06 points or 2.68%.
The NSE 50-issue Nifty also eased by 10.20 points or 0.17% to end at 5,874.50.
In Asian markets, key indices from China, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore closed in the red, while South Korea ended in the green. Hong Kong market was closed today.
"Below expected results from the index heavyweight RIL on Thursday evening led to a muted opening on the bourses. Selling was more pronounced during the last half an hour of the choppy trade," said Bonanza Portfolio's Senior Research Analyst (Equity) Shanu Goel.
He added, however, "The market is likely to be volatile as settlement of April derivative contracts is due on 28th April. Results of ACC and Ambuja cements are also likely to affect the sentiments in the market."
Motilal Oswal Securities Senior Analyst Parag Doctor said, "The Sensex ended marginally down led by the Realty and Oil & Gas stocks. Most of the Global markets being closed kept the Indian market range bound amid thin volumes. PSU Banking and metal stocks saw some buying interest."
Analysts said higher crude oil prices and expectations of monetary tightening by China to contain inflation weighed on the Asian stocks.
European stock markets closed for Easter Holiday.
FIIs continued buying spree and pumped in Rs 622.50 crore crore on April 21, as per market regulator Sebi's data.
In all, 18 out of 30 index-based counters closed with losses, while 12 finished with gains. Besides RIL, DLF dropped 2.25%, REL Com by 1.41%, Jaipra Asso by 0.98% Jindal Steel by 0.76%, Hero Honda by 0.62% and HDFC Bank by 0.59%.
From sectoral indices, the BSE-Realty was the second loser with a fall of 1.18%.
The total market breadth remained lower as 1,558 stocks finished in the red, while 1,340 settled in the green on the BSE. The total turnover dipped sharply to Rs 2,736.77 crore from Rs 3,636.83 crore last weekend.