The Nifty edged lower on Tuesday after earlier hitting a nearly two-year high as data showing a continued high trade deficit renewed concerns about the current account deficit, spurring investors to book profits.
The market rallied last week after the government won the vote for FDI in retail in both the houses of parliament but gains have stalled this week as market participants wait for further reform bills, including banking reforms bill to get cleared in the ongoing winter session.
Traders are now waiting whether the parliament will pass the banking amendment bill that would provide licences to non-financial companies, which is seen as an important measure to sustain a rally in Indian shares.
"Basically market has seen a rally and in the near term market would remain flat for a while as people will look at allocations for the next year," said Sonam Udasi, head of Research, IDBI Capital.
Mood will still be sanguine because of reform optimism around. Key for market to move higher would be divestment and other reforms helping fiscal deficit situation.
The Nifty fell 0.17 percent, or 10.10 points, to end at 5,898.80 after earlier hitting the highest level since January 07, 2011.
The Sensex fell 0.12 percent, or 22.55 points to end at 19,387.14, after earlier gaining as much as 1 percent to hit its highest since April 27, 2011.
Concerns about the country's current account deficit pressured shares after data showed the trade deficit remained high at $19.3 billion in November.
The concerns about the country's finances is highlighting the importance of the government's disinvestment programme, which is taking place amidst signs of a pick up in the initial public offer market.
India is looking to sell up to $1.1 billion stake in state miner NMDC , while the telecommunications tower unit of top Indian phone carrier Bharti Airtel Ltd is set to raise up to $832 million this week.
Export-driven technology shares were among the leading decliners due to outlook concerns. The benchmark IT index has fallen 5.52 percent so far this month, underperforming a 0.32 percent gain in the broader NSE index.
Tata Consultancy Services fell 1.4 percent, while Infosys fell 0.8 percent.
Rate-sensitive stocks also saw selling pressure ahead of the industrial output data on Wednesday and inflation data on Friday, which will set expectations ahead of the Reserve Bank of India's policy-setting meeting on December 18.
State Bank of India fell 0.5 percent, while Tata Motors Ltd fell 0.7 percent.
Property stocks also fell on profit-taking after recent strong gains, with DLF ending down 1.9 percent lower, while Housing Development & Infrastructure lost 2.1 percent.
However, among gainers, NMDC rose 3.1 percent after Barclays upgraded the stock to 'overweight' from 'underweight', citing favourable pricing dynamics in the domestic iron ore markets.
Kingfisher Airlines gained 4.7 percent after newspaper Mumbai Mirror reported Gulf carrier Etihad Airways is close to buying a 48 percent stake in the debt-ridden carrier, without citing any sources.
Post market, Kingfisher denied the newspaper report that it had reached an agreement on selling a 48 percent stake to Etihad Airways.
But said it is in discussions with various investors, including Etihad, for equity investments in the company, but matters are merely at negotiation stages, it said in a statement to the stock exchange.