Domestic stock markets fell on Wednesday amid volatile trade amid selling pressure in IT and energy shares, amid cautious gains across Asia ahead of the US central bank's policy statement. The S&P BSE Sensex index shed as many as 357.65 points from an intraday high of 38,617.03 to hit 38,259.38 on the downside in afternoon deals. The broader NSE Nifty 50 benchmark moved within a range of 96.55 points, between 11,244.85 and 11,341.40. Buying interest in banking, metal and pharmaceutical stocks, however, arrested the fall.
At 1:10 pm, the Sensex traded 147.00 points - or 0.38 per cent - lower at 38,345.95, while the Nifty was down 25.40 points - or 0.22 per cent - at 11,275.15.
Analysts awaited corporate earnings for near-term cues. Bharti Airtel, Dr Reddy's Laboratories, IndiGo and Maruti Suzuki are slated to report their financial results for the April-June period later in the day, and Reliance Industries on Thursday.
Share markets elsewhere in Asia registered mild gains, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan last seen trading 0.10 per cent higher. However, Japan's Nikkei 225 benchmark fell 1.15 per cent on a rising yen and weak start to corporate earnings season.
China's Shanghai Composite index jumped 2.06 per cent, whereas Hong Kong's Hang Seng and South Korea's KOSPI barometers climbed up 0.32 per cent and 0.27 per cent respectively.
Some expect the Federal Reserve to open the door to a higher tolerance for inflation. A $1-trillion US fiscal rescue package is also at an impasse as a Friday deadline to extend unemployment benefits looms. The US central bank's forward guidance probably determines the next move and the extension of several emergency lending facilities on Tuesday fuelled anticipation of a particularly dovish tone.
European share markets started Wednesday's session on a positive note, with the United Kingdom's FTSE benchmark last seen trading 0.18 per cent higher. France's CAC and Germany's DAX indices were up 0.87 per cent and 0.10 per cent respectively at the time.
The E-Mini S&P 500 futures were last up 0.19 per cent, indicating a positive opening for US markets later in the day.