The benchmark BSE Sensex on Wednesday fell 245 points to end below 29,000-mark, mainly bogged down by last-hour selling in healthcare, capital goods and tech stocks as investors resorted to profit-booking ahead of the start of result season on Thursday.
The exporters' stocks fell on concerns that the strength in the rupee after inflation data may persist and hurt their revenues, brokers said.
Meanwhile, continuing the deflationary trend for fifth month in a row, inflation touched a record low of (-)2.33% in March on cheaper manufactured goods and food items, prompting industry to renew its demand for further rate cut by the Reserve Bank.
The 30-share BSE index resumed higher at 29,087.25 against last close of 29,044.44 points. The barometer firmed up further to the day's high of 29,094.61 on the back of easing retail inflation.
However, selling in bluechips in the late trade dragged the index below the 29,000-level. It finally settled 244.75 points or 0.84% lower at 28,799.69.
Of 30-Sensex kitty, 23 stocks ended lower, while 7 other finished higher.
The 50-issue NSE Nifty slipped below 8,800-level by falling 83.80 points or 0.95% to close at 8,750.20. Intraday, it hovered between 8,840.80 and 8,722.40.
Tata Consultancy Services will report its result on Thursday, while Reliance Industries will declare its results for the quarter ended March on Friday.
On Sensex the biggest losers included, Tata Motors, Infosys, Axis Bank, Sun Pharma, M&M, HDFC Bank and BHEL.
Selling was so widespread that sectoral indices, oil&gas and FMCG only closed slightly better while 10 others fell.
Private sector banking stocks, which were in the limelight in early stages fell on fag-end offloading. The bankex that was up by over 305 points in late afternoon deals, settled in the negative zone.
Power and capital goods stocks attracted profit-booking while the BSE midcap, which logged its record high of 11,193.96 intra-day, and BSE smallcap, also washed out initial gains and finished in the red.