In choppy trade, the benchmark BSE Sensex today ended almost unchanged as gains in Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd (HDFC), ITC and Tata Steelshares were countered by losses in IT stocks like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys, amid global markets turning cautious ahead of a closely-watched US Federal Reserve policy meeting.
After touching the day's high at 21,895.83 at the outset, the Sensex fell back to end with a negligible 0.25-point rise at 21,832.86. The gauge had dipped to 21,782.01 during mid-session on heavy selling in IT stocks.
Brokers said the sentiment was poor as IT stocks dropped on growth concerns while overseas investors awaited outcome of the US Fed's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) that will conclude its first meeting today after Janet Yellen succeeded Ben Bernanke as chair.
Tata Consultancy Services, the country's leading software exporter, plunged 3.94 per cent after analysts said the company has indicated revenue growth for the quarter ending in March to be weaker than the previous quarter.
"The company indicated that in line with seasonality, 4Q revenue growth will be weaker than 3Q, with the India business continuing to show a decline," said a note from Nomura.
The IT sector index suffered the most by losing 2.24 per cent as Sensex heaveyweight Infosys lost 2.39 per cent. Other tech losers were Tech Mahindra, HCL Technologies, Oracle Finance, Financial Technologies, Mphasis and Mindtree.
""Participants preferred to keep cautious stance on Wednesday, ahead of US Fed meeting outcome. As a result, the benchmarks were remained in a narrow range and closed flat in the end," Jayant Manglik, President-retail distribution, Religare Securities.
However, the broad-based NSE index Nifty managed to end higher by 7.40 points, or 0.11 per cent, at 6,524.05. The index shuttled between 6,541.20 and 6,506.00 intra-day.
Reliance Industries, ITC, SBI, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, L&T, BHEL and Tata Steel gained, saving the market from plunging deep into the negative zone.
While IT, Teck, Oil and Gas, Realty and power sector indices fell, metal, FMCG, Bank, Capital Goods and Healthcare indices gained.
Check out Tuesday's (March 18) close:
* BSE index closes flat; NSE index gains 0.11 pct
* Technology stocks fall; TCS closes 3.89 pct down
* Metal stocks gain; Tata Steel surges 4.67 pct
Indian shares end