The Union rail budget failed to hit the right note for the market as selling momentum continued for the third straight day, with the benchmark Sensex plunging nearly 113 points to close below the key 23,000-mark on Thursday.
Besides, winding up of bets on the last session of the expiry in February derivatives contracts, coupled with weakness in global markets, made investors nervous.
The rupee fell 20 paise to 68.77 (intra-day) against the dollar, which added to the selling pressure.
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday proposed increasing capital outlay for the Railways, the world’s fourth-largest rail network, by 21% to Rs 1.21 lakh crore.
The 30-share barometer started higher, but lost its way soon after the railway budget. It closed at 22,976, down 112.93 points, or 0.49 per cent. The gauge had lost almost 700 points in the previous two sessions.
The NSE Nifty was on the same boat as it went below the crucial 7,000-level by falling 48.10 points, or 0.69% to close at 6,970.60. Intra-day, it shuttled between 7,034.20 and 6,961.40.
Shares of companies linked to the railway sector performed below par as they came under strain. Kalindee Rail Nirman was down as much as 9.26%, and so were Texmaco Rail (8.78%), Titagarh Wagons (8.40%), Simplex Castings (8.16%), Stone India (5.74%) and BEML (4.06%).
Others that lost included SBI, Tata Motors, GAIL, L&T, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and Maruti.
Of the 30 constituents in the Sensex, 21 ended lower and 9 higher.
ONGC, Sun Pharma, HDFC, Coal India and Cipla were among the gainers.
Power, realty, capital goods, banking, auto, IT, technology, oil and gas and consumer durables fell up to 2.19%.
Mid-cap and small-cap indices, in line with the broader trend, retreated by 1.14% and 0.91%, respectively.
Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) continued to sell shares worth net Rs 730.99 crore on Wednesday, provisional data showed.
Asian equities threw up a mixed picture at the close while European indices climbed in opening trade.