The BSE Sensex fell 271 points today to close below the 18,000 mark as investors sold stocks, including blue-chip Reliance Industries, over concerns that surging oil prices will stoke inflation and lead to even higher interest rates.
The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark index Sensex, dipped 271.06 points to close at 17,878.81 after touching the day's low of 17,849.53, with investors selling oil and gas, auto, realty and banking stocks.
The gauge had lost 208.82 Points yesterday after the Reserve Bank increased key rates for the eighth time since last March, and revised upwards inflation forecast to 8 per cent for the fiscal ending this month, from earlier prediction of 7 per cent.
Similarly, the broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty lost 72.95 points, or 1.34 per cent to 5,373.70, after hitting a low of 5,366.40 points during the session.
Brokers said rising crude oil prices in global markets due to the ongoing tensions in the Middle East worried investors. However, higher closings on Asian bourses checked further losses.
Besides, a significant fall in the heaviest-weighed Reliance Industries (RIL) had a bearish impact on the sentiments, they added. It fell 3.71 per cent.
The BSE oil and gas sector index suffered the most by losing 2.67 per cent to 9,688.38, with RIL shares plummeting to Rs 993.15. ONGC lost 1.03 per cent to Rs 269.85.
Bharat Heavy Electricals, the biggest power-equipment maker, declined 2.01 per cent to Rs 1,925.65. The largest mortgage lender HDFC fell 2.57 per cent to Rs 620.95.
The IT sector index lost 1.36 per cent to 5,999.97 as bellwether Infosys Technologies declined 1.33 per cent to Rs 2,941.55, and TCS Ltd by 1.56 per cent to Rs 1082.40.
The Auto sector index fell 2.01 per cent to 8485.30 with Tata Motors, Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra and Mahindra, Bajaj Auto and Hero Honda ending lower.
The metal sector index also ended in the negative zone with fall of 0.12 per cent to 15,275.23.
As selling pressure picked up, the smallcap index also fell 0.78 per cent to 7,797.80 and midcap index by 0.43 per cent to 6,509.68.