Hit by profit-booking at two-year high levels, the BSE benchmark Sensex today closed below the 20,000-mark by losing over 120 points and the NSE Nifty slipped below the 6,100-level amid mixed global cues.
Sensex, which had gained 284 points in last three trading sessions, commenced the day higher at 20,156.86 before ending with a loss of 120.25 points, or 0.60 per cent, at 19,981.57.
Across-the-board selling resulted in all 13 BSE sectoral indices closing lower with losses between 0.47 per cent and 1.98 per cent. Realty, consumer durables, FMCG, PSU and capital goods segments lead the down-slide, said brokers.
Fall in Hindustan Unilever (HUL), ITC, SBI, HDFC Bank, Tata Motors, TCS, GAIL India, L&T, Infosys, ICICI Bank, Bharti Airtel and Hindalco mainly weighed on the 30-share Sensex.
Dealers said profit-booking picked up as benchmark indices in the current calender year had so far gained close to 4 per cent on economic reforms, continued capital inflows, strong corporate earnings and hopes of rate cut on January 29 by RBI.
The broader 50-share S&P CNX Nifty of the NSE also fell back by 33.80 points or 0.56 per cent to 6,048.50 after breaching the 6,100 mark for the first time in two years.
FMCG major Hindustan Unilever Ltd today reported a 15.59 per cent jump in net profit to Rs 871.36 crore for the third quarter ended December 31, 2012. However, its shares slipped nearly 2.9 per cent.
Trading sentiment was hit as global markets depicted a mixed trend as investors awaited cues from key US corporate earnings to be released later today.
"European indices were showing mixed trend...Domestic market breadth was negative and profit-selling in lead stocks after recent gains led to pressure," said Rakesh Goyal, Senior Vice President, Bonanza Portfolio.
However, minor gains in RIL, ONGC and Bajaj Auto and around 1.5 per cent rise each in NTPC and Sun Pharma saved the market from a major fall.
Globally, Asian stocks ended narrowly mixed after reports said the Bank of Japan (BoJ) announced it would adopt open-ended policy easing and a 2 per cent inflation target.
Key indices in Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan inched up by 0.29 per cent to 0.49 per cent while from China, Japan and Singapore eased by up to 0.56 per cent.
However, European markets were trading lower in the afternoon deals as indices in France, UK and Germany declined by 0.51 per cent to 1.41 per cent, as per latest data.
Turning to the local