The S&P CNX Nifty closed 10.45 points down at 946.90 as against its overnight close at 957.35.
Commented Prabhudas Lilladhers technical analyst Hitesh Seth: There was panic-selling across the board in both the old and new economy sector stocks. Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL) contributed to the decline today on apprehensions that it may post poor second quarter results ending September 2002, on account of inadequate rains, adding: Market sentiment remained weak on Thursday owing to selling pressure created by operators as well as institutional invest-ors.
Other dealers from domestic brokerages said pharma stocks traded weak, while mixed trends were displayed at the tech-counter of The Stock Exchange, Mumbai (BSE).
There was conspicuous lack of activity on behalf of foreign institutional investors (FIIs). FIIs pulled out a net of Rs 8.60 crore on Tuesday (October 22) after having pulled out Rs 44.46 crore on Monday, which has also taken its toll on the markets today, dealers added.
The Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) hit its fresh nine-year low closing at Rs 95, 6.6 per cent lower than its previous close at Rs 101.80 amid fears that the company would be merged with the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL).
HLL was down 2.13 per cent to Rs 167.70 as investors feared that the topline growth of the company would be voluminously affected. Patchy monsoons this year is expected to hurt the topline of the company. ICICI Bank also declined a considerable 4.08 per cent to Rs 124.75, succumbing to selling pressure despite Bajaj Autos denial of its plans to offload its 3.51 per cent holding in the banking major, dealers said. ITC dipped by nearly two per cent today to close at Rs 636.30 despite impressive second quarter results, succumbing to panic selling, they added.
Heavyweights like Reliance Industries declined 2.5 per cent to close at Rs 229.85 with the State Bank of India closing one per cent lower at Rs 230.50 also contributed to the weakness in the Sensex today.
In the pharma sector, the stock price of Dr Reddys Laboratories (DRL) also dipped ahead of the announcement of its second quarter results on the back of apprehensions that the domestic pahrma major is likely to post lower profits as the sales of its popular drug, Prozac fell sharply in the US, as per pharma analysts. Glaxo Smithkline and Ranbaxy laboratories also followed suit succumbing to selling pressure.
However, stocks of two-wheeler majors Bajaj Auto (up 2.4 per cent closing at Rs 410.20) and Hero Honda (up 2.3 per cent closing at Rs 237.80) were considerable gainers in an otherwise lacklustre market after having been hammered in the last few trading sessions, partly providing respite to the Sensex.