Mumbai: The market gauge Sensex on Wednesday fell for the third straight session to mark its lowest level in over five weeks as participants moved to the sidelines exercising caution ahead of the federal Budget.
At close, the 30-share Sensex was down 208.43 points, or 0.50 percent, at 41,115.38 -- the lowest level for the index since 16 December. After starting the session on a high note, the BSE gauge kept on shedding gains and touched the day's low of 41,059.04.
Likewise, the broader NSE Nifty settled 62.95 points, or 0.52 percent, lower at 12,106.90 -- marking its fourth straight session loss.
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Both benchmark indices bore the brunt of heavy selling mainly in energy, financial and auto stocks.
A subdued corporate earnings season and banks' stressed assets situation have made investors realign their investment strategy, analysts said adding that the upcoming Budget will decide the course of the market in the near to mid-term.
Further, global agencies slashing India's growth outlook is also weighing on domestic investor sentiment, they added.
On the Sensex chart, ONGC was the top loser, tumbling 5.13 percent, followed by NTPC, Kotak Bank, Maruti Suzuki, HDFC, Asian Paints, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank.
On the other hand, Nestle India, TCS, Infosys, HCL Tech, SBI and Bharti Airtel ended with gains of up to 1.86 percent.
Sectorally, BSE metal, oil and gas and power were among the major losers -- dropping as much as 1.57 percent.
While BSE IT, teck and telecom indices ended up to 1.09 percent higher.
In the broader market, midcap and smallcap indices fell up to 0.32 percent.
"Domestic markets after opening higher failed to hold on to gains amid profit-booking across finance, auto, metal and pharma stocks; while FMCG and few IT stocks remained in the green zone. Uncertainty ahead of Budget has resulted in investors' being cautious for the time being," Paras Bothra, President of Equity Research, Ashika Stock Broking, said.
Besides, fears of contagion after the US announced its first case of a new virus that has claimed six lives in China also remained in hindsight, he said.
Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services Ltd, said, "Banks, auto and midcaps are consolidating due to marginal slippage in NPAs and earnings growth than anticipated earlier. The Q3 result had solid expectations but actual results are marginally below expectation for sectors like IT and banks, this is impacting the market. A lot will depend on the actual outcome of Budget for further direction, market is turning cautious before the big event."
On the currency front, the Indian rupee closed marginally up at 71.19 against the US dollar.
Global benchmark Brent crude fell 0.67 percent to $64.16 per barrel.
Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul ended with gains.
European markets were also trading on a positive note in their early sessions.
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Updated Date: Jan 22, 2020 17:33:14 IST