The Sensex, which had gained 284 points in last three trading sessions, commenced the day higher at 20,156.86 before ending with a loss of 120.25 points, or 0.60%, at 19,981.57. Across-the-board selling resulted in all 13 BSE sectoral indices closing lower with losses between 0.47% and 1.98%.
Realty, consumer durables, FMCG, PSU and capital goods led the slide, said brokers. Fall in Hindustan Unilever (HUL), ITC, SBI, HDFC Bank, Tata Motors, TCS, GAIL India, L&T, Infosys, ICICI Bank, Bharti Airtel and Hindalco mainly weighed on the 30-share Sensex.
Dealers said profit-booking picked up as benchmark indices in the current calender year had so far gained close to 4% on economic reforms, continued capital inflows, strong corporate earnings and hopes of rate cut on January 29 by RBI. The broader 50-share S&P CNX Nifty of the NSE also fell back by 33.80 points, or 0.56%, to 6,048.50 after breaching the 6,100-mark for the first time in two years.
FMCG major Hindustan Unilever reported a 15.59% jump in net profit to R871.36 crore for the third quarter ended December 31, 2012. However, its shares slipped nearly 2.9%.
Trading sentiment was hit as global markets depicted a mixed trend as investors awaited cues from key US corporate earnings to be released later in the day.
European indices were showing mixed trend... Domestic market breadth was negative and profit-selling in lead stocks after recent gains led to pressure, said Rakesh Goyal, senior vice-president, Bonanza Portfolio.