In its biggest drop in three weeks, the benchmark BSE Sensex today fell by nearly 246 points to slip below the 21,000-level hurt by losses in rate-sensitive shares ahead of the release of industrial production and retail inflation data that may influence the RBI policy next week.
The index, which lost 155 points in the previous 2 days, fell by 245.80 points, or 1.16 per cent, to end at 20,925.61 as auto, banking and capital goods stocks dropped. This was its sharpest fall since 406-point plunge on November 21.
Fears of soft October IIP data and sticky double-digit retail inflation for November triggered selling, analysts said. Of the 30-share Sensex, 26 constituents including Tata Motors (4.55 per cent), Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) (2.7 per cent) and ICICI Bank (2.36 per cent) fell.
"It is very likely that the RBI will raise the repo rate on December 18," said Raghu Kumar, co-founder, RKSV.
Profit-booking continued for the third day in a row as investors continued to churn portfolios after equity barometers hit record highs recently, brokers said.
Weak global markets after fresh jitters that a US budget deal would make it easier for the Federal Reserve to pare its USD 85-billion-a-month economic stimulus, also weighed.
The 50-share NSE Nifty dropped by 70.85 points, or 1.12 per cent, to close at 6,237.05. Also, SX40 index of MCX Stock Exchange ended 136.94 points down at 12,432.57.
Losses in three influential stocks -- ITC Ltd (1.29 per cent), Reliance Industries (RIL) (1.20 per cent) and Infosys Ltd (0.24 per cent) -- weighed on domestic market sentiment. However, midcap and smallcap shares did not bleed as much as bluechips.
Sectorally, the BSE Auto sector index suffered the most by losing 2.20 per cent, followed by BSE Banking index by 1.42 per cent, BSE Metal index lost 1.37 per cent and BSE Oil and Gas index by 1.30 per cent.
BSE Sensex marks biggest single-day fall in 3 weeks