MUMBAI: The benchmark equity index BSE Sensex on Tuesday slipped below the crucial 31,000-point mark after 21 consecutive sessions as investors booked profits prior to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) implementation.
Besides, weak European markets and heavy selling pressure in banking, capital goods and automobile stocks spooked investors.
The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE closed at 30,958.25 points -- down 179.96 points, or 0.58 per cent, from its previous close at 31,138.21 points.
The wider Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) fell by 63.55 points, or 0.66 per cent, to close at 9,511.40 points.
The broader market indices underperformed the Sensex. The S&P BSE mid-cap index fell by 0.79 per cent and the small-cap index by 1.57 per cent.
"Markets corrected sharply on Tuesday to end with losses for the fifth consecutive session, though ending off the session lows. Negative cues from European markets (CAC and DAX) spoiled investors' sentiments," Deepak Jasani, Head - Retail Research, HDFC Securities, told IANS.
"Geo-political tensions also weighed on market sentiment amid reports suggesting that China accused Indian troops of crossing the boundary in the Sikkim region and demanded their immediate withdrawal, while asserting that it stopped the Indian pilgrims who enter Tibet via the Himalayan pass of Nathu La for safety reasons in view of the border issue," Jasani added.
On the currency front, the rupee remained flat at 64.53 to a US dollar from last week's close.
In investments, provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors (FIIs) purchased stocks worth Rs 292.11 crore, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) divested scrips worth Rs 148.54 crore.
"Equity indices ended in red amid profit booking. Banking sector stocks came under pressure as the Reserve Bank of India sought higher provisioning against insolvency. This is negative for the PSU banks as it will push up their credit cost," said Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls.
Sector-wise, the S&P BSE banking index declined by 384.67 points, the capital goods index by 208.05 points, and the automobile index by 149.46 points.
On the other hand, the S&P BSE consumer durables index was up by 52.33 points and the telecom index by 15.05 points.
Major Sensex gainers on Wednesday were: Bharti Airtel, up 1.61 per cent at Rs 371.80; ONGC, up 1.23 per cent at Rs 159.955; Hero MotoCorp, up 0.97 per cent at Rs 3,695.95; Tata Steel, up 0.60 per cent at Rs 510.45; and Adani Ports, up 0.56 per cent at Rs 367.25.
Major Sensex losers were: State Bank of India, down 3.27 per cent at Rs 279.40; Axis Bank, down 2.34 per cent at Rs 492.80; Infosys, down 1.80 per cent at Rs 926.35; Asian Paints, down 1.73 at Rs 1,134; and Bajaj Auto, down 1.61 per cent at Rs 2,779.20.