Bearish global cues on the back of rising geo-political tensions, coupled with huge outflow of foreign funds, pulled the Indian equity indices to their lowest levels in three weeks on Tuesday.
The key indices, which opened the day's trade on a positive note, closed with losses for the fourth consecutive session. Heavy selling pressure was witnessed in metal, automobile and healthcare stocks.
The wider 51-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) fell by 34.15 points or 0.37 per cent to 9,105.15 points.
The barometer 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 29,487.78 points, closed at 29,319.10 points -- down 94.56 points or 0.32 per cent from the previous close at 29,413.66 points.
The Sensex touched a high of 29,701.19 points and a low of 29,286.38 points during the intra-day trade.
The BSE market breadth was bearish -- with 1,771 declines and 1,112 advances.
In terms of the broader markets, the S&P BSE mid-cap index fell by 0.63 per cent, while the small-cap index closed lower by 0.74 per cent.
"Markets ended with losses on Tuesday after a positive morning session as a strong intra-day rally was derailed by sell-off in late trade. It was the fourth consecutive session of losses," Deepak Jasani, Head - Retail Research, HDFC Securities, told IANS.
"The Sensex and the Nifty hit their lowest level in three weeks. The weakness came on the back of geo-political tensions, as notably those between the US and North Korea. These have heightened worries about aggressions escalating into a bigger confrontation."
Anand James, Chief Market Strategist, Geojit Financial Services, said: "The US and Australia's visa norms turned up the heat on IT companies, while higher possibilities of El Nino put sentiments under check. Global cues weren't helping either after the European markets reopened after Easter Monday holidays with deep cuts."
"With the rupee easing a bit, FII (foreign institutional investors) action will be in focus, as they have been net sellers in equities for the most part of this month so far."
On the currency front, the Indian rupee weakened by 11-12 paise to 64.63 against a US dollar from its previous close of 64.51-52 to a greenback.
In terms of investments, provisional data with the exchanges showed that the FIIs sold scrip worth Rs 930.67 crore, while the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) off-loaded scrip worth Rs 878.08 crore.
According to Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls, the equity benchmark indices ended in the red dragged by index heavyweights Reliance, Infosys and L&T (Larsen and Toubro).
"At present, the Indian market is going through time wise correction. The Indian Meteorological Department (today) forecast normal monsoon, which may boost some sentiment in the market," Desai pointed out.
"Only the Bank Nifty managed to gain among all other sectors. The sectors which saw maximum loss today was metal, followed by healthcare and consumer durables."
Sector-wise, the S&P BSE metal index plunged by 203.29 points, followed by the automobile index, which dipped by 164.45 points, and the healthcare index, which fell by 145.12 points.
On the other hand, the utilities index inched up by 5.35 points and the power index was up a tad by 0.79 points.
Major Sensex gainers on Tuesday were: NTPC, up 1.60 per cent at Rs 161.70; Wipro, up 0.93 per cent at Rs 496.35; HDFC Bank, up 0.68 per cent at Rs 1,445.75; ICICI Bank, up 0.46 per cent at Rs 283; and Power Grid, up 0.32 per cent at Rs 202.35.
Major Sensex losers were: Tata Steel, down 2.55 per cent at Rs 450.25; Coal India, down 2.34 per cent at Rs 279.10; Sun Pharma, down 1.76 per cent at Rs 665.30; Asian Paints, down 1.68 per cent at Rs 1,040.95; and Reliance Industries, down 1.48 per cent at Rs 1,370.45.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)