Dragged down by losses in stocks of FMCG giants ITC and HUL, the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex today dropped 286 points to end below the 20K-mark at a two- eek low of 19,804.76.
The 30-share Sensex initially touched a high of 20,110.81 and subsequently declined to settle at 19,804.76, a loss of 285.92 points or 1.42 per cent, adding to yesterday's fall of 1.04 per cent. Amid weak global cues, investors adopted a cautious stance on the expiry of monthly derivatives.
The 50-stock CNX Nifty index on the National Stock Exchange tumbled 1.39 per cent to 5,907.50. The SX40 index on the MCX-SX fell 1.33 per cent to 11,829.16.
"Market continued its downward slide today partially fuelled by negative global cues as the Dow and S&P 500 had finished in negative territory," said Sanjeev Zarbade, vice president - private client group research at Kotak Securities.
"It was also expiry day for Indian derivatives."
ITC was the top loser in the Sensex pack, with a fall of 4.57 per cent, after the company today reported Q1 net profit rose 18.05 per cent and net sales increased 10.31 per cent to Rs 7,338.52 crore.
"ITC was down by over 4 per cent post its Q1 results," said Nidhi Saraswat, a senior research analyst at Bonanza Portfolio. "However, sales numbers missed market estimates."
FMCG major Hindustan Unilever declined 3.21 per cent ahead of Q1 results tomorrow. ITC and HUL together contributed 140 points to the Sensex fall.
Other index shares that fell included RIL, ICICI Bank, Sun Pharma, HDFC Bank, L&T, Wipro, M&M, ONGC, Tata Power, Tata Steel, BHEL, Dr Reddy's Lab, Cipla, Sterlite Ind, Coal India, Jindal Steel and Hindalco.
In all, 11 of the 13 sectoral indices closed with losses, led by FMCG (3.33 per cent), metal, healthcare and oil and gas segments.
Only five of the 30 shares on the benchmark index gained.
Asian stocks ended lower as investors weighed US economic data to gauge possible changes in the Federal Reserve's stimulus programme. Key indices in China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and Taiwan fell.
European stock markets also traded lower in the afternoon, with benchmark indices in France, Germany and UK moving down.
In the domestic market, other losers were Wipro (4.01 pc), Tata Power (3.19 pc), Sun Pharma (2.89 pc), Tata Steel (2.96 pc), BHEL (2.70 pc), Jindal Steel (2.57 pc), Sterlite Ind (2.07 pc), RIL (1.95 pc), ICICI Bank (1.84 pc), Larsen (1.52 pc), M&M (1.51 pc), Coal India (1.36 pc), Cipla (1.35 pc), Dr Reddy's Lab (1.11 pc), ONGC (1.10 pc) and Hindalco (1.07 pc).
The gainers included Hero MotoCorp, which rose 4.06 pc, followed by Tata Motors, TCS and Infosys.
Among the sectoral indices, S&P BSE-FMCG dropped by 3.33 pc, followed by S&P BSE-Metal 1.73 pc, S&P BSE-HC 1.64 pc, S&P BSE-Oil&Gas 1.35 pc, S&P BSE-CG 1.34 pc, S&P BSE-Power 1.25 pc and S&P BSE-PSU 1.20 pc.
The market breadth remained negative, with 1,419 scrips declining, 850 shares gaining and 174 scrips unchanged. Total turnover shot up further to Rs 2,144.18 crore from Rs 1,862.12 crore yesterday.
Foreign institutional investors sold shares worth a net Rs 404.50 crore yesterday, as per provisional data from the stock exchanges.