After a marginally positive start and a subsequent strong upmove that resulted in the Sensex breaching the magical 21,000 mark, the market traded firm till an hour past noon, and then faltered and slipped into the red to end on a negative note on Thursday.
Global cues were a bit weak when trading commenced, but traders indulged in some brisk buying at several counters. However, the mood turned cautious in afternoon trade, amid worries about falling earnings of India Inc and on concerns about near term economic outlook. The Chinese central bank's move to tighten liquidity weighed as well.
The BSE benchmark Sensex, which rallied to 21,039.42, its highest level since November 2010, declined to 20,656.70 in afternoon trade and finally ended the day at 20,725.43, down 42.45 points or 0.2% from its previous close.
The Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange closed at 8164.35, recording a loss of 14 points or 0.23%. The index touched a high of 6252.45 and a low of 6142.95 during the day.
Information technology, power and realty stocks closed on a weak note. Metal, PSU, healthcare and oil stocks came off their lows, but still mostly ended on the negative side.
FMCG and bank stocks found some support. Select consumer durables, capital goods and automobile stocks had a good outing.
Wipro, extending recent losses, ended 4.2% down. Tata Consultancy Services lost around 2.5% and Infosys closed lower by 0.4%, while HCL Technologies ended down 4.6%.
Coal India declined bhy 3.2%. Jindal Steel & Power, BHEL, NTPC and Reliance Industries lost 1.2% - 2%. Hindalco, Tata Power, Hindustan Unilever, Tata Steel, Cipla, Maruti Suzuki and Bajaj Auto also ended notably lower.
Power Grid Corporation ended 1.8% down. Ambuja Cements lost 1.2% due to weak results. Lupin, Kotak Bank and Punjab National Bank too closed lower.
Ranbaxy Laboratories, NMDC, IDFC and Mahindra & Mahindra gained 2.5% - 2.8%. GAIL India, HDFC Bank, Larsen & Toubro, Tata Motors and Cairn India advanced by 1% - 1.6%.
Ultra Tech Cement, Bank of Baroda, HDFC, ONGC, Bharti Airtel, ITC and BPCL closed with modest gains.
NHPC declined following the company's board approving a share buy-back proposal. Autoline Industries declined on weak results.
Shanti Gears, Raymond, Emami, eClerx Services and IPCA Laboratories saw some buying on impressive results.
Britannia Industries, Thomas Cook and Punj Lloyd were in demand on stock specific stories.
The market breadth was slightly weak. Out of 2673 stocks traded on BSE, 1292 stocks declined. 1197 stocks moved up and 184 stocks ended flat.