The stock markets slipped on Thursday after a four-day winning spell, when the Sensex ended with losses and the Nifty settled below the crucial 9,900 as investors jostled to take money off the table.
Concerns about foreign capital flying out remained.
On the macro front, services sector activity expanded for the first time in three months in September -- but only slightly. The Nikkei India Services PMI stood at 50.7 in September -- from 47.5 in August.
The BSE 30-share index after a positive opening stretched to 31,772.41, but could not stay there for long buffeted by the selling pressure. It hit a low of 31,562.25 before settling lower by 79.68 points, or 0.25 per cent, at 31,592.03.
The index, which rose 174 points on Wednesday after the Reserve Bank decided to hold rates in line with expectations, had gained 512 points in the previous four sessions.
Reflecting the volatile trend, the NSE Nifty, after shuttling between 9,945.95 and 9,881.855, closed down 26.20 points, or 0.26 per cent, at 9,888.70.
"Market traded range bound with a negative bias due to lack of optimism to the upcoming earnings season. However, some positive development in auto sales numbers, core sector growth and festival demand will add some light over the consolidation phase," said Vinod Nair, head of research, Geojit Financial Services Ltd.
The outcome of Friday’s GST Council meeting is also seen to decide the direction of the market in the short run.
Domestic institutional investors (DIIs) purchased shares for net Rs 584.88 crore while foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) dumped equities worth Rs 632.14 crore on Wednesday, provisional data showed.
In stock-specific movement, PowerGrid took the biggest knock plunging 1.99 per cent to Rs 204.85 while ICICI Bank lost 1.54 per cent to Rs 271.75. Bajaj Auto, Hero MotoCorp, HDFC Ltd and Sun Pharma also bogged down the key BSE index.
NTPC, Coal India, M&M and RIL made headway, limiting the damage.
The BSE telecom index fell the most by 0.71 per cent. Others such as oil and gas, consumer durables and FMCG too suffered losses.
The broader markets gave a better account of themselves -- the small-cap index was up 0.79 per cent and mid-cap by 0.49 per cent.
Financial markets in China, Hong Kong and South Korea were shut for public holidays, while Japan's Nikkei ended flat and European shares took a mixed line in the early session.