Dragged down by selling in last 30 minutes, the BSE benchmark Sensex today fell by nearly 96 points to close at the year's lowest level of 19,484.77 on renewed worries over economic growth and tepid corporate earnings, extending the losing string to the seventh day - Nifty too dipped.
The 30-share barometer moved in a narrow range of about 100 points till afternoon trade, but selling since late afternoon session pulled it sharply down to nearly 6-week low of 19,484.77, a loss of 95.55 points or 0.49 per cent.
Scrips like ICICI Bank, ITC, SBI, RIL, ONGC, Cipla, Tata Motors, M&M, Maruti Suzuki, Sterlite, HUL, Dr Reddy's Lab, Hindalco and HDFC suffered sharp to moderate losses today.
"Pre-Budget party looks to be over. Sentiment is turning weak. Market may drift lower," said Vijay Kedia, Director, Kedia Securities.
In the last seven sessions, Sensex has lost over 520 points due to a combination of profit-booking in bluechips, poor growth prospects and fiscal health worries. The current losing trend is the Sensex's longest since November 2011.
Brokers said weak earnings by Hindalco and Canara Bank today after lower-than-expected results from Cipla yesterday also dampened the market sentiment further.
Hindalco, Sterlite and Cipla fell over 3 per cent each. The broader S&P CNX Nifty of the NSE also dipped by 35.30 points or 0.59 per cent to a six-week low of 5,903.50. It fell below key 5,900-level to an intra-day low of 5,883.65.
Global markets, however, ended in positive zone today.
Kishor P Ostwal, CMD, CNI Research Ltd said, "Indian Market made another low with unconvincing volumes. GDP below 5 percent was not appealing. It seems market is scared of the Budget."
Yesterday, Central Statistics Office said the country's economic growth rate this fiscal is estimated to be sharply lower at 5 per cent as against 6.2 per cent.
Asian shares ended mostly higher after reports saidChinese data for January showed monthly exports jumped 25 per cent and imports climbed 28.8 per cent from the year-ago period, giving the country USD 29.2 billion trade surplus.
Key benchmark indices in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan rose by 0.16-0.99 per cent while Japan's Nikkei Average fell 1.80 per cent.
European markets were trading higher in their early trade as France, Germany and UK moved up by 0.48-0.54 per cent.
Turning to the local market, 21 out of 30-share Sensex declined while only nine counters finished with gains.
Major losers from the Sensex included