Power, realty and IT stocks saw selling while consumer durables, FMCG and auto scrips witnessed buying, traders said.
After a better start at 20,449, the Sensex fell to intra-day low of 20,348.06 in choppy trade. It ended at 20,420.26, down 4.76 points, or 0.02 per cent, compared to yesterday. The benchmark had lost 180.06 points on Tuesday.
Among the 30-share Sensex, 16 stocks including Infosys, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Industries (RIL), fell. However, Tata Motors, ITC Ltd and Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) led 13 gainers. Hero MotoCorp ended unchanged.
The 50-share NSE Nifty index eased by a mere 2 points, or 0.03 per cent, to close at 6,057.10, after moving between 6,074 and 6,030.30 intra-day. Also, SX40 index of MCX Stock Exchange closed 4.36 points down at 12,119.99.
Brokers said the market remained volatile as investors were seen adjusting portfolios before the expiry of monthly derivative contracts tomorrow. Investors are also eyeing the GDP and fiscal deficit data slated for release on Friday.
The rupee was trading stronger at 62.2 levels against the US dollar. The American unit fell following a disappointing report on US consumer confidence in November.
Sectorally, BSE Power was the worst performer today as it lost 0.88 per cent, followed by Realty (0.77 pc), IT (0.66 pc), TECK (0.65 pc) and Healthcare (0.48 pc).
In pharma pack, Wockhardt plunged 8.87 per cent after US health regulator FDA imposed restrictions on import of medicines produced at the company's Chikalthana plant at Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
Globally, markets eked out modest gains today amid bets that the Wall Street looks set to add to a string of milestones ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
In Europe, the UK's FTSE, France's CAC and Germany's DAX were trading higher in early trades. Asian indices including Hong Kong's Hang Seng, Taiwan's TAIEX and China's Shanghai Composite closed in green. However, Nikkei of Japan ended down.
* BSE index falls 0.02 pct; NSE ends 0.03 pct lower
* GDP and fiscal deficit data due on Friday
* Indian sugar firms' shares surge on hopes of govt aid
BSE Sensex ends almost flat ahead of F&O expiry, GDP data
(Reuters) Indian shares edged down on Wednesday as software services exporters such as Infosys were hit by a strengthening rupee, while broader sentiment remained weak due to recent selling by foreign investors.
Foreign funds were sellers of 3.39 billion rupees ($54.27 million) in domestic cash shares and 7.80 billion rupees in equity derivatives on Tuesday, exchange data shows. FIIs have pumped a net $6 billion into cash shares since late August, helping the benchmark BSE index hit a record high on Nov. 3.
Waning risk appetite from foreign investors is reviving concerns about India's vulnerability when the Federal Reserve begins to taper its monetary stimulus given the country's dependence on overseas flows to bridge its current account deficit.
Caution continues to prevail ahead of the expiry of November derivatives contracts on Thursday and gross domestic product and fiscal deficit data on Friday.
"Market is no mood to react on data. It's more a question of liquidity. Election results might swing the mood for a bit but liquidity would be key to watch for long term," said Phani Sekhar, fund manager at Angel Broking.
The benchmark BSE index fell 0.02 percent, or 4.76 points, to end at 20,420.26, marking its second consecutive day of losses.
The broader NSE index fell 0.03 percent, or 2 points, to end at 6,057.10. Software service exporter shares fell after the rupee strengthened to a one-week high against the U.S. dollar tracking gains in a euro currency that gained after German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives reached a deal with Social Democrats on forming a grand coalition.
Infosys Ltd fell 0.7 percent, Wipro Ltd lost 1.1 percent, while Tata Consultancy Services Ltd also ended 0.4 percent lower.
Some bank shares also fell on profit-taking. State Bank of India ended 1.2 percent lower, while Yes Bank Ltd ended 1.7 percent down.
Among other decliners, Wockhardt Ltd slumped 8.3 percent after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration imposed an "import alert", effectively a ban, on a domestic plant operated by the Indian generic drug maker.
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd ended 0.2 percent lower after the company said it will recall 1,492 vehicles.
State-run Power Grid Corp of India's fell 2.2 percent on stock supply concerns ahead of the sale of its shares valued at about $1.2 billion likely to open on Dec. 3.
However, among gainers, some sugar companies surged after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set up a committee on Tuesday under the chairmanship of agriculture minister to look into how to give help to struggling sugar mills.
Bajaj Hindusthan Ltd rose 1.8 percent, while Shree Renuka Sugars Ltd ended 1.2 percent higher.
FACTORS TO WATCH
* German coalition deal lifts euro
* Brent holds at $111 on supply concerns
* Euro makes move on yen, China shares outperform
* Foreign institutional investor flows