The Sensex today ended 18 points lower amid cautious trading over US 'fiscal cliff' talks in the last trading day of 2012, which saw the BSE benchmark rise by 26 per cent -- the best annual gain since 2009.
After a better start, the 30-share index moved between 19,491.08 and 19,406.17, before ending with a moderate loss of 18.13 points at 19,426.71.
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Brokers said Indian markets ended on a weak note as investors cut positions amid US lawmakers still trying to reach a pact to avoid the 'fiscal cliff' of over USD 600 billion in spending cuts and tax hikes set to start tomorrow.
In 30-share BSE index, 17 stocks gained, while 13 closed with losses led by ITC, L&T, HDFC, ICICI Bank and TCS. RIL, Bharti Airtel and Maruti Suzuki also closed lower.
The market, however, received some support from gainers, including Tata Motors, HUL, ONGC, M&M and GAIL.
There was limited participation on the last trading session of 2012 as most Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) were off the market, brokers added.
"Today, our markets remained almost unchanged on the back of outcome to come on Fiscal cliff from United States," said Shrikant Chouhan, Senior Vice President (Technical Research), Kotak Securities.
The 50-share National Stock Exchange index Nifty today shed 3.25 points to end at 5,905.10.
On a calendar year basis, the Sensex clocked 25.69 per cent gain, or 3,971.79 points, in 2012.
This gain, the best since 2009 when the index had gained a whopping 81.03 per cent, came on the back of strong capital inflows and big-bang reforms by the government.
The Nifty rose by 1,280.80 points or 27.70 per cent in 2012.
Investors got richer by almost Rs 16.09 lakh crore in 2012, with their wealth soaring to Rs 69,21,815 crore from last year's wealth of Rs 53,12,875 crore.
FIIs bought shares worth a net Rs 833.40 crore last Friday as per provisional data from the stock exchanges. They have infused Rs 1,27,455.30 crore (USD 24.20 billion) in 2012 till December 27, as per Sebi data.
Globally, Asian markets today ended