Of late, the hawkish comments from policymakers, including Chairman Janet Yellen, have helped firm up expectations that a rate increase is on the horizon. In such a case, investors pull out money from emerging markets, causing stocks to underperform.
Software stocks continued to slide, dragged down by a stronger rupee, which rallied to a fresh 16-month high against the dollar. Software exporters' almost 60 per cent revenues come from the US and Europe.
The rupee was trading at fresh 16-month high of 65.41 against the dollar (intra-day).
The Sensex closed at 29,398.11, down 44.52 points, or 0.15 per cent. The 30-share index, which had gained 540.69 points in the previous three sessions, hit over a 2-year high yesterday on the strong showing of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
The 50-scrip NSE barometer retreated from its record high touched yesterday to end 9,084.80, a fall of 2.20 points, or 0.02 per cent.
Inflation proved to be a dampener too. CPI inflation rose to 4-month high of 3.65 per cent in February and that of wholesale prices shot up to a 39-month high of 6.55 per cent, spoiling hopes of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank at its next meeting in April.
Besides, a weak trend in Asia following losses on the Wall Street because of mounting anxiety about Federal Reserve decision cast shadow.
Foreign funds bought a staggering net Rs 4,087.89 crore yesterday, showed the provisional figures.
Sectors like IT, technology, oil and gas saw fresh round of selling at existing higher levels. On the other hand, realty, auto, consumer durables, metal and bank continued to witness increased buying.
Meanwhile, Moody's Investors Service said today the BJP's thumping victory in Uttar Pradesh and substantial gains made in other states will facilitate reforms as the ruling party inches closer to a majority in the Upper House.
TCS, Infosys, Hindustan Unilever, Wipro, Coal India, ONGC, PowerGrid, Asian Paints, ICICI Bank, Lupin, L&T, NTPC and GAIL came under pressure and lost up to 2.42 per cent.
However, Tata Steel, Hero MotoCorp, RIL, SBI, Tata Motors, HDFC Bank, Adani Ports and HDFC made further headway that capped the losses.
Idea Cellular climbed 9.56 per cent on speculative buying activity amid reports of tower business sale.
MRF Ltd zoomed 7.66 per cent to close at an all-time high, powered by persistent fall in raw material prices. Also, Ceat, TVS Srichakra, JK Tyres, Apollo Tyres and Goodyear India all made handsome gains.
The BSE IT sector index fell the most by losing 1.81 per cent, followed by technology and oil and gas.
The broader markets, however, continued to remain bullish with the mid-cap index rising 1.06 per cent and small-cap by 0.66 per cent.
Globally, Asian shares remained mixed. On the other hand, European shares were higher in their early deals.