The benchmark BSE Sensex today slipped by nearly 256 points, its first drop in four days, hurt by a late sell-off in banking, consumer durables and auto shares, amid cautious global markets. However, in the broader markets, sugar shares, including Balrampur Chini and Bajaj Hindusthan, notched up 10-14 per cent gains on hopes of import duty hike.
BSE Sensex, which had gained nearly 696.42 points in the previous three sessions, dropped by 255.69 points, or 1.22 per cent, to 20,635.13, after touching a low of 20,579.94.
Hindalco Industries Ltd were the biggest losers.
On similar lines, the broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty tumbled by 80.45 points, or 1.30 per cent, to end at 6,122.90. It intra-day touched a low of 6,106.95.
Also, SX40 index, the flagship index of MCX-SX, closed 155.5 points lower at 12,245.9.
While Fed chief Ben Bernanke yesterday reiterated the US central bank's commitment to easy policy, markets were seen nervous ahead of the release of minutes of Fed's October meeting and data relating to retail sales and pre-owned homes.
"...heavy selling pressure in last hour of trade brought markets to negative territory as global indices were also in red ahead of US Fed meeting," said Nidhi Saraswat, Senior Research Analyst, Bonanza Portfolio Ltd.
The Indian rupee also depreciated by around 25 paise to 62.62/63 per US dollar. Experts attributed the weakness in Asian markets to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) cutting its forecast for world growth this
year to 2.7 per cent and 3.6 per cent for next.
Sector-wise, the BSE Banking sector index, which was