After rising over 90 points, the BSE benchmark Sensex today ended just 15 points higher on cautious trade amid a crash in some mid-cap and small-cap counters as they plunged by up to 62 per cent on panic selling triggered by speculation that pledged holdings are being sold.
Although Sensex managed to close in the positive terrain at 19,331.69, up 14.68 points or 0.08 per cent breaking a two-day string of losses, market sentiment was negative due to over 1 per cent fall each in mid-cap and small-cap indices.
Around 1,802 scrips fell while 1,011 counters closed up.
IT stocks led by Infosys, TCS and Wipro closed the day with 1-3 per cent gain. Tata Motors also ended over 2 per cent higher. Entities interested in banking like Religare closed around 8 per cent higher.
Cipla (2.6 pc), L&T (2.3 pc), CIL (1.99 pc) and ONGC led 15 losers in 30-share Sensex. RIL also slipped over 1 percent.
In the mid-cap space, shares of Core Projects tumbled 62 per cent and was the biggest loser on BSE, while scrips of Aanjaneya Lifecare, Sudar Ind., Flexituff, ABG Shipyard, Welspun Corp and Gemini Comm. plunged by 20 per cent each.
Market regulator Sebi, along with the bourses which act as front-line regulators, are looking into possible links of a rogue trader who has been barred from the capital markets but could still be trading through front entities.
"Absence of retail investors in Indian capital market is because majority of midcaps are manipulated and operators are never caught," said Vijay Kedia, Director, Kedia Securities.
The broad-based National Stock Exchange index rose by 4.45 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 5,854.75.
Brokers said market participants adopted a cautious approach before the railway and general budgets this week.
Sensex had lost over 325 points in past two sessions.
IT, Tech and Auto stocks attracted good buying support while realty, capital goods, metal refinery and PSU shares were at the receiving end, said equity dealers.
Country's second largest software services exporter, Infosys was the top gainer from the sensex pack with a rise of 2.84 per cent on hopes of sops for exporters in Union Budget.
SBI firmed up by 1.11 per cent after it said today that a issue price of Rs 2,312.78 a share has been for preferential allotment to the government to raise Rs 3,004 crore as part of capital infusion plan for this fiscal.
Outside major indices, sares of Jet Airways tanked more than 4