Markets ended in the red after a lacklustre session of trade, owing to soft cues from global peers. The Sensex after touching a high of 17,912, slipped back into the red and ended at 17,847 - down 38 points. Nifty ended down eight points at 5,413.
Asian markets slipped ended in red. Japan reported a wider-than-expected trade deficit in July as Europe's sovereign debt crisis and a slowdown in China dragged down exports and higher oil prices boosted imports. Japan's Nikkei slipped 25 points at 9,131. Hang Seng shed 1 per cent, followed by Shanghai Composite and Taiwan Weighted.
According to provisional data, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) bought shares worth net Rs 141.36 crore (Rs 1.41 billion) from the secondary equity markets on Tuesday, 21 August 2012.
BSE healthcare index advanced 0.5 per cent to 7,371. Auto shares gained, with the BSE auto index adding 0.4 per cent at 9,684.
Meanwhile, BSE realty index has slipped 0.8 per cent to 1,639. Power, capital goods and consumer durables indices delcined 0.3 per cent each.
Broader markets delcined in line with the benchmark indices. BSE mid-cap index slipped 0.14 per cent at 6,164.
Bank employees in India began a two-day strike on Wednesday to protest against proposed reforms that would ease mergers and allow more private capital, including foreign investment, in the banking sector.
BSE bankex ended flat at 12,030. From the banking pack, ICICI Bank ended down 0.1 per cent at Rs 973, while SBI and HDFC bank ended unchanged.
Bharti Airtel shed 4 per cent to Rs 248, its lowest level since October 2006 in morning trades on the NSE after Morgan Stanley downgrades the stock to "equal-weight" from "overweight".
According to a Reuters report, "Morgan Stanley says traffic growth is coming at the expense of operating margins as tariff wars in the sector bring down average revenue per minute for voice calls." Investment bank cuts its target price to Rs 280 from Rs 366, added the report.
"Overall, the medium term bias is negative and the strategy should be to sell on rise as the target on the down side is around Rs 190," said Somil Mehta, Sr Technical Analyst (Equity), Sharekhan.
NTPC slipped 1.5 per cent to Rs 171. Sterlite, GAIL India and HDFC dropped around 1 per cent each.
On the other hand, Coal India added 1.4 per cent to Rs 357. Infosys continued Tuesday's rally and ended up 1 per cent at Rs 2,433 after a U.S. court dismissed a lawsuit from an employee.
Dr Reddy's added 1 per cent to Rs 1,678. Bajaj Auto, Hero MotoCorp and Tata Motors were some of the other key gainers.
Cox and Kings soared 5 per cent at Rs 148, after the travel and tour operator said that Citi Venture Capital International (CVCI), the private equity arm of Citigroup Inc. has agreed to invest $137.75 million in Prometheon Holdings (UK) Ltd, a subsidiary of the company.
Ranbaxy Laboratories moved higher by 4 per cent at Rs 533, bouncing back almost 5 per cent from day's low after the company issued clarification on reports of withdrawal of 27 approved Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDA) in the US market.
BSE market breadth was marginally negative. Out of 2,959 stocks traded, 1,459 shares declined while 1,341 shares advanced.