Benchmark share indices ended lower, amid a volatile trading session on Thursday, following the expiry of February futures and options series.
The markets traded in a narrow range in early trades but turned volatile later.
The Sensex ended at 18,078, down 67 points and the 50-share Nifty ended lower 22 by points at 5,483 levels.
In Asia most of the markets ended on a mixed note, Hang Seng shed 168 points at 21,380, Taiwan shed 64 points at 7,937 levels. Shanghai ended flat at 2,410 levels and the Nikkei jumped 41 points to 9,595 levels.
Back home, Sterlite Industries was the top loser among the Sensex stocks, down 4.3% to Rs 115 extending its previous days 6% fall, on reports of the merger of a group company, Sesa Goa [ Get Quote ], with itself.
Bharti Airtel [ Get Quote ] shed 2.4% to close at Rs 339 on reports that Econet Wireless is seeking at least $3.1 billion in damages from the company in a dispute over ownership of its subsidiary Airtel Nigeria.
Mahindra & Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki, DLF, L&T and ICICI Bank [ Get Quote ] were also among the laggards.
On the other hand, HUL, BHEL, NTPC, Reliance Industries [ Get Quote ], Tata Power [ Get Quote ] and TCS [ Get Quote ] were among the notable gainers.
On the sectoral front, realty, metal and auto stocks were amongst the worst hit in trades today. the BSE Realty index was the top sectoral loser, down 2.5% or 50 points at 1,973 levels. Prestige Estates was the top loser from this space, down 6.4% at Rs 100. HDIL, Sobha Developers [ Get Quote ], DB Realty, Phoenix Mills [ Get Quote ], DLF, Oberoi Realty and Parsvnath Developers [ Get Quote ] were also among the losers.
Metal index lost 1.4% to 11,944 led by losses in Bhushan Steel [ Get Quote ], Sterlite Industries, Sesa Goa, NMDC, Hindustan Zinc [ Get Quote ], JSW Steel [ Get Quote ] and SAIL [ Get Quote ].
Auto, Capital goods, Bankex, Healthcare, PSU, IT and Consumer Durable stocks faced the selling pressure and the respective indices ended lower by 0.2-0.8% each.
At the same time, FMCG, power and oil & gas stocks witnessed some amount of buying in trades today.
The BSE FMCG index ended at 4,718, up nearly 1% or 34 points. Power and Oil & Gas indices also advanced 0.6% and 0.3% each respectively.
From the FMCG pack, Godrej Consumer Products [ Get Quote ] was the top gainer, 4.2% to Rs 449. United Spirits [ Get Quote ], jubilant Foodworks, Tata Global Beverages, Colgate Palmolive, HUL, Nestle [ Get Quote ] and ITC were also among the gainers from this sector.
Shares of state-owned oil marketing companies Indian Oil Corporation [ Get Quote ], HPCL [ Get Quote ] and BPCL [ Get Quote ] ended higher in an otherwise weak market on reports these companies will increase fuel prices after regional elections end in the first week of March.
Vakrangee Softwares [ Get Quote ] ended lower by 8% at Rs 508, plunged 15% from day's high of Rs 577 after the announcements of bonus issue and stock split plans.
KSB Pumps [ Get Quote ] has rallied 6% to Rs 254 on reporting 35% year-on-year growth in net profit at Rs 16.20 crore for the fourth quarter ended December 2011.
Net sales for the quarter grew 31% at Rs 226 crore on y-o-y basis.
Alfa Laval galloped 16% to Rs 3,267, near its lifetime high market price, on hopes that the Sweden based company may increase the buyback price in its proposed delisting offer.
The broader markets ended lower, the BSE mid-cap index shed 0.5% or 35 points to close at 6,340 and the small-cap index ended down nearly 1% at 6,906 levels.
The overall breadth was negative as 1,786 stocks declined while 1,092 stocks advanced.