Investor sentiment remained negative following last week's unexpected rate hike by the Reserve Bank to ease inflationary pressure and lack of significant market triggers.
Volatility ruled the session ahead of the expiry of September futures and options contracts tomorrow, which prevented investors from taking aggressive positions.
Lingering concerns about the US debt ceiling debate, which is creating a cloud of uncertainty on global markets alongside Fed's tapering worries, also dampened market mood.
Stocks initially gained with the key benchmark reclaiming the key 5,900 level before succumbing to selling pressure. The sell-off, led by frontline heavyweights, gained pace in mid-afternoon due to sustained profit taking in various sectors, dragging the market into deep red.
However, losses were mostly erased towards the tail-end following some low-level buying supported by short-covering.
FMCG, financial and energy related counters witnessed heavy selling. Healthcare, capital goods, metal and technology shares attracted good buying support.
Most Asian and emerging market ended lower following continued sell-off at the Wall Street amid uncertainty surrounding US budget discussions.
The 50-share index swung widely between a high of 5,910.55 and a low of 5,811.10 before concluding at 5,873.85, posting a loss of 18.60, or 0.32 per cent.
BPCL, Reliance, HDFC Bank, M&M, DLF, IDFC, Bajaj Auto, Asian Paint, HUL and Maruti were among the biggest losers from the frontline index. Prominent gainers included BHEL, Sesa Goa, Hindalco, SBIN, NTPC, Bharti Airtel, Dr Reddy's, Sun Pharma, ONGC and Tata Motors.
Turnover in the cash segment declined to Rs 11,107.72 crore from 11,148.20 crore yesterday. A total of 5,973.19 lakh shares changed hands in 58,07,434 trades. The market capitalisation stood at Rs 62,91,056 crore.