After a weak start and a subsequent long spell in negative territory, the market cut down a substantial portion of its losses towards the end of the session, thanks to some brisk buying in select bank, pharma, information technology and oil stocks.
Metal stocks traded weak right through the day, due largely to a weak trend in industrial metal prices. Realty, consumer durables, capital goods, PSU and power stocks too mostly ended notably lower.
Automobile stocks found some support in late afternoon trade. FMCG stocks too came off their lows thanks to buying in the final hour. Midcap and smallcap stocks, which saw some hefty losses last week, were battered once again.
The BSE benchmark Sensex, which plunged to 18,760.41, losing more than 150 points in the process, ended the session at 18,877.96, down 40.56 points or 0.21% from its previous close. The Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange closed at 5698.50, around 35 points off the day's low of 5663.60, recording a loss of 21.20 points or 0.37%.
While worries about near term economic outlook and weak global markets contributed to the sell-off, some bargain hunting towards the end of the day, pulled several stocks out from the red.
Hindalco ended lower by a little over 4.5%. Jindal Steel & Power lost 4.2% and Sterlite Industries declined by 2.7%, while Tata Steel closed with a loss of almost 2%. Several other metal stocks, including SAIL, Sesa Goa and JSW Steel, too ended with sharp losses.
Hindustan Unilever, Larsen & Toubro, Bajaj Auto and Maruti Suzuki lost 1.7% - 2.7%. ONGC ended lower by about 1%. HDFC, Hero Motocorp, Wipro and BHEL ended with modest losses.
Jaiprakash Associates ended nearly 6% down. ACC, Reliance Infrastructure, DLF, Ambuja Cements, Grasim Industries, Ultratech Cement, IDFC, Cairn India, Siemens and HCL Technologies lost 1% - 4%.
Bharti Airtel ended nearly 2% up. Dr Reddy's Laboratories, Tata Consultancy Services, ITC, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Tata Motors, Power Grid Corporation, BPCL and Cipla also closed on a firm note.
Shares of PSU oil marketing firms saw some brisk buying early on in the session following a hike in petrol prices, but gave up most of their gains as the day progressed.
Shares of NHPC plunged on heavy volumes. The counter saw some huge block deals on Modnday. On the National Stock Exchange, NHPC topped the chart, clocking a turnover of nearly Rs 512 crore, on a volume of nearly 260 million shares.
With several midcap and smallcap stocks ending lower, the market breadth was very weak today. Out of 2928 stocks traded on BSE, as many as 1958 stocks declined. 860 stocks moved up and 110 stocks ended flat.