Mumbai: Stocks hit a soft patch for the third straight day as the Sensex succumbed to a slump in European markets as it wiped off early gains and ended lower at 28,224 -- an almost 1-month low -- ahead of the derivatives expiry.
The beginning of trade, however, offered a picture in contrast as mood remained upbeat after the US presidential debate showed Democrat Hillary Clinton getting an investors' thumbs-up over Republican nominee Donald Trump.
But caution set in as worries grew over the outcome of an upcoming meeting of oil producers in Algeria to discuss ways to lift oil prices.
The level of uncertainty became accentuated, with futures and options expiry coming up on Thursday and the monetary policy meet on October 4.
The benchmark, which lost nearly 478.85 points in the previous two sessions, today resumed higher. But selling pressure in the last hour due to profit-booking meant the gauge slipped and settled at 28,223.70, a loss of 70.58 points, or 0.25 per cent.
Displaying volatility, the NSE Nifty managed to close above the 8,700 mark, but was still down 16.65 points, or 0.19 per cent, at 8,706.40.
"FIIs had also been net sellers in the last couple of days, keeping a lid on upsides, and with just a day ahead of F&O expiry, rollovers have remained below average, suggesting that risk appetite is lower, especially with RBI rate decision scheduled for next week," Anand James, Chief Market Strategist, Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services.
Overall, 18 of the 30-share Sensex team fell.
Shares of Adani Ports lost heavily, plunging the most by 2.20 per cent, followed by Bharti Airtel 2.01 per cent. L&T, ONGC, Axis Bank, GAIL and SBI too lost sizeable ground.
Among the sectoral indices, capital goods was hardest hit, down 1.12 per cent, followed by oil & gas (0.72 per cent), metal (0.68 per cent) and PSU (0.62 per cent).
IT, healthcare, technology and consumer durable stocks provided comfort, rising by up to 0.70 per cent.
The small-cap index was marginally up 0.13 per cent while mid-cap index advanced 0.11 per cent.
Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) sold shares worth a net Rs 206.40 crore yesterday.
European shares showed signs of weakness as London's FTSE slumped 0.19 per cent, Paris CAC 0.52 per cent and Frankfurt 0.85 per cent.