The market opened lower on weak global cues, and, after staging a modest recovery, faltered again and then kept sliding lower and lower as the session progressed, with investors indulging in some heavy selling almost across the board.
A dim forecast for the Asian economy and profit taking ahead of release of crucial economic data and earnings reports contributed to the market's sharp decline. Barring some healthcare stocks and a select few from the FMCG space, which found modest support, stocks from all other sectors drifted lower on sustained selling pressure.
The BSE benchmark Sensex ended the day with a loss of 229.48 points or 1.21% at 18,708.98, slightly off the day's low of 18,684.40. The broader 50-stock Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange, which declined to 5666.20, closed at 5676, recording a loss of 70.95 points or 1.23%.
Realty stocks, led by DLF, were among the most prominent losers. DLF ended lower by over 7% due to heavy selling in the stock following social activist Arvind Kejriwal accusing the company of favouring Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress chief and the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, with easy loans for some undue gains. In a clarification DLF, has rejected the allegations and said that it had given Rs 65 crore as business advances out of which Rs 15 crore was fully refunded and Rs 50 crore was used for purchase of land.
Reliance Infrastructure lost around 4.8%. Reliance Industries, the index heavyweight, also went down by about 4.8%, contributing substantially to the market's decline. Hindalco, BHEL, Larsen & Toubro, Jaiprakash Associates, Tata Motors and Bank of Baroda lost 3% - 4%.
State Bank of India and Ambuja Cements ended nearly 3% down. Punjab National Bank, Siemens, Tata Power, HCL Technologies, Wipro, IDFC, Grasim Industries, ONGC and ACC lost over 2%.
Kotak Bank, Coal India, Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank and Tata Steel also ended notably lower.
Sun Pharmaceutical Industries ended stronger by 3.7%. Asian Paints gained 2.4%. Ultratech Cement (1.7%), Bharti Airtel (1.6%), Cairn India (1.4%) and Jindal Steel & Power (1.1%) also closed on a firm note. Bajaj Auto, ITC and Cipla closed with modest gains.
Shares from hospitality sector attracted buyers on the back of reports suggesing a significant jump in tourist arrivals in the country.
Polaris, Jubilant Foodworks, DB Realty, Kalpataru Power Transmission, Neyveli Lignite Corporation and Geometric saw some strong buying on stock specific stories.
The market breadth was slightly negative. Out of 3013 stocks traded on BSE, 1515 stocks declined. 1383 stocks moved up and 115 stocks ended flat.