Domestic equity benchmarks snapped their four-day winning streak as investors booked profits a day ahead of the Reserve Bank of India's monetary policy decision. Meanwhile, expectation of below average monsoon rains later in the year predicted by a private weather forecast company Skymet also weighed on the investors' sentiment, analysts said. The S&P BSE Sensex fell as much as 444 points from record high of 39,270.14 and the NSE Nifty 50 Index dropped 132 points from an all-time high of 11,761 seen in morning deals.
The Sensex ended 180 points or 0.46 per cent lower at 38,877 and the NSE Nifty 50 Index fell 69 points or 0.59 per cent to close at 11,644.
The RBI's six-member monetary policy committee (MPC) began its three day review on Tuesday, and most analysts expected it to take a cautious approach given uncertainty over who will lead the government after the coming elections and what their fiscal policy will be.
More than 85 per cent of the nearly 70 economists polled by Reuters expected the RBI to cut its benchmark lending rate, the repo rate, by 25 basis points to 6 per cent on April 4.
Earlier in the day, Sensex and Nifty surged to record highs paced by gains in Tata Motors, Tata Steel, IndusInd Bank, Maruti Suzuki and HDFC. However, the benchmarks corrected in afternoon deals as broad-based selling pressure gripped the markets.
All the 19 sector gauges compiled by BSE ended lower led by the S&P BSE Oil & Gas Index's 2 per cent decline. Capital goods, banking, utilities, telecom, industrials and healthcare indexes also dropped between 1 and 1.6 per cent each.
Mid- and small-cap shares underperformed their larger peers as the S&P BSE MidCap Index fell 0.77 per cet and the S&P BSE SmallCap Index declined 0.87 per cent.
Bharat Petroleum was top loser in the Nifty 50 basket of shares, the stock fell 4.6 per cent to Rs 363. Zee Entertainment, Indian Oil, GAIL, State Bank of India, Yes Bank, Larsen & Toubro and Grasim Industries also closed lower in the Nifty.
On the flipside, Indiabulls Housing Finance, Maruti Suzuki, Bajaj Finserv, HCL Technologies, Tata Steel, JSW Steel and HDFC were among the gainers.
(With inputs from Reuters)
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