Stocks took some time out to catch their breath today after the Sensex closed lower and the Nifty retreated from its life high amid caution ahead of US Federal Reserve's policy meeting outcome.
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.
IT stocks continued to slide, dragged down by a stronger rupee, which rallied to a fresh 16-month high of 65.69. Software exporters earn much of their revenues in dollar from the US and Europe.
The Sensex closed at 29,398.11, down 44.52 points, or 0.15 per cent. The 30-share index, which had advanced 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 at 9,084.80, a fall of 2.20 points, or 0.02 per cent.
"With the rupee continuing to strengthen, IT remained a drag on Indian equities. There was also apprehension ahead of FOMC rate decision, but that did not deter investors, who were buoyed by the recent surge in prices," said Anand James, Chief Market Strategist, Geojit Financial Services.
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.
Some Asian indices trended lower following losses on the Wall Street because of mounting anxiety about Federal Reserve decision.
Foreign funds bought a staggering net Rs 4,087.89 crore yesterday, showed the provisional figures.
IT, technology, oil and gas shares saw fresh selling. But realty, auto, consumer durables, metal and bank remained on the buyer's list.
Meanwhile, Moody's Investors Service today said the BJP's thumping victory in Uttar Pradesh and substantial gains in other states will lead to more 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 headway that capped the losses.
Idea Cellular climbed 9.56 per cent on speculative buying 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. Other tyre makers such as Ceat, TVS Srichakra, JK Tyres, Apollo Tyres and Goodyear India too advanced significantly.
The BSE IT sector index fell the most by losing 1.81 per cent, followed by technology and oil and gas.
The broader markets continued to remain bullish. The mid-cap and small-cap indices both rose.
European shares traded higher in their early session.
The Sensex heatmap was split down the middle, with 15
scrips ending lower and 15 higher.
The market breadth remained positive as 1,426 shares advanced, 1,384 slumped while 187 ruled steady.
The total turnover on BSE rose to Rs 54,337.25 crore, from Rs 4,677.92 crore in the previous session.