The Indian stock market opened on a firm note, with investors indulging in some brisk buying in early trades, tracking positive cues from Asian markets where the key averages moved higher amid easing worries about Cyprus.
Some short-covering and bargain hunting after six successive sessions of losses too contributed to the strong upmove early on in the session.
However, the mood turned cautious around mid afternoon amid reports the Samajwadi Party may withdraw support to the UPA government, close on the heels of the DMK party's decision to pull out of the coalition.
The BSE benchmark Sensex, which rose to 18,950.22 in early trades, declined to 18,654.61 past mid afternoon and eventually ended the day with a loss of 54.18 points or 0.29% at 18,681.42. The Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange closed at 5633.85, nearly 85 points off the day's high of 5718.40, recording a loss of 17.50 points or 0.31%.
Realty stocks started off on an upbeat note, and despite paring most of their gains later on in the day, turned out to be outperformers on Monday. Select power and consumer durables stocks edged higher.
Information technology stocks were subdued right through the session. Healthcare stocks too were mostly subdued. Oil and bank stocks had some bright spells in positive territory, but failed to hold gains due to a sell-off later in the day.
Automobile and metal stocks declined. Capital goods stocks were the most prominent losers. Not much buying happened in midcap and smallcap segments as well.
Hero Motocorp, Tata Steel and Larsen & Toubro lost 2.2% - 2.4%. Bharti Airtel and GAIL India ended nearly 2% down. Hindalco lost around 1.8%.
ICICI Bank, Maruti Suzuki, Wipro, State Bank of India, Bajaj Auto, Mahindra & Mahindra, ITC and Sterlite Industries also closed notably lower.
Bank of Baroda, IDFC, Ambuja Cements, Asian Paints, Sesa Goa and Kotak Bank were among the notable losers in the Nifty index.
Realty stock DLF gained more than 5%. NTPC, BPCL, ONGC, Power Grid Corporation, HDFC, Ranbaxy Laboratories, Jaiprakash Associates, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ACC, Reliance Infrastructure, Hindustan Unilever and Ultratech Cement closed with sharp to moderate gains.
Lupin, Adani Power, GMR Infrastructure and Godrej Properties saw some strong buying during the day on stock specific stories.
The market breadth was weak. Out of 3034 stocks traded on BSE, 1883 stocks declined. 1027 stocks moved up and 124 stocks ended flat.