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BSE Sensex hit by drop in ICICI Bank, Reliance Industries share prices

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BSE Sensex hurt by drop in ICICI Bank Reliance Industries share prices. (AP) BSE Sensex hurt by drop in ICICI Bank Reliance Industries share prices. (AP)
SummaryBSE Sensex suffers as ICICI Bank, Reliance Industries share prices fall.

on media report about tariff cut

* L&T falls for 4th day on order book worries

BSE Sensex continues to retreat; caution ahead of results, data

(Reuters) Indian shares fell to their lowest close in 2-1/2 weeks on Monday, and have now declined in each of the four trading sessions of the year as caution prevailed ahead of financial results and key inflation data.

Also, foreign institutional investors sold 6.08 billion rupees ($97.7 million) worth of index futures and 180 million rupees of cash shares on Friday, dampening the sentiment.

Losses on Monday also tracked lower Asian shares after growth in China's services sector slowed sharply last month, raising concerns about the pace of recovery in the world's second-largest economy.

For India, the HSBC Services Purchasing Managers' Index INPMIS=ECI, compiled by Markit, showed a continued contraction in activity, falling to 46.7 in December from 47.2 in November as new orders dwindled, although firms hired at their fastest pace in five months.

The BSE benchmark index has now fallen 1.8 percent this year wiping out the entire gains made in the previous month. Infosys Ltd is due to report October-December results on Friday, informally kicking off the results reporting season for blue chips.

India is due to post wholesale and consumer prices data next week, which will help determine whether the Reserve Bank of India will resume raising interest rates after tightening monetary policy by a total of 50 basis points over September and October.

"October-December earnings season would be about stock-specific stories. We have to watch out for management comments this season to establish whether ground realities have changed or not," said Dipen Shah, head of private client group research at Kotak Securities.

Expect market to consolidate more as optimism around reforms and rupee stability are getting matched by fiscal and inflationary problems, Shah added.

The benchmark BSE index fell 0.31 percent, or 64.03 points, to end at 20,787.30, marking its the lowest close since Dec. 19. The broader NSE index lost 0.32 percent, or 19.70 points, to end at 6,191.45, closing below the psychologically important 6,200 level.

Sentiment was also dampened after foreign institutional investors sold

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