Caution ahead of the Karnataka assembly elections along with subdued global factors including high crude oil prices and geo-political tensions in the Middle East dragged the Indian equity indices lower on Thursday.
According to market observers, heavy selling pressure was witnessed in consumer durables, capital goods and healthcare stocks.
The broader Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed at 10,716.55 points -- down 25.15 points or 0.23 per cent -- from its previous close of 10,741.70 points.
Similarly the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) on the BSE closed in the red. It had opened at 35,353.96 points and closed at 35,246.27 points -- down 73.08 points or 0.21 per cent -- from its previous session's close of 35,319.35 points.
The Sensex touched a high of 35,500.76 points and a low of 35,203.85 points during the intra-day trade.
The BSE market breadth was bearish with 1,890 declines and 775 advances. On the NSE, too, the market breadth was bearish.
"Sensex and Nifty50 closed lower on Thursday as investors are cautious ahead of elections in the state of Karnataka," said Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer, Tradebulls.
According to Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research at HDFC Securities: "Rising crude oil prices also impacted the sentiments."
"Broad market indices like the BSE mid-cap and small cap indices lost more, thereby underperforming the main indices," Jasani told IANS.
The S&P BSE mid-cap fell 1.52 per cent, while the S&P BSE small cap settled 1.36 per cent lower from its previous closing level.
Jasani added: "major Asian markets have closed on a mixed note. European indices like FTSE 100 and CAC 40 are trading in the red."
On the currency front, the Indian rupee weakened by 4 paise to 67.31 against the US dollar from its previous close at 67.27.
Provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold scrips worth Rs 364.88 crore, while the domestic institutional investors purchased stocks worth Rs 900.69 crore.
Sector-wise, the S&P BSE oil and gas index and the S&P telecom index were the only gainers on Thursday. The oil and gas stocks rose by 77.85 points, while the telecom stocks ended 0.27 points higher than its previous close.
On the other hand, the S&P BSE consumer durables index fell by 287.03 points, the capital goods stocks dropped by 214.64 points and the healthcare stocks ended 208.25 points lower.
The major gainers on the Sensex were ONGC, up 2.87 per cent at Rs 188.15; Bharti Airtel, up 1.92 per cent at Rs 410.35; Tata Motors (DVR), up 0.71 per cent at Rs 198.25; Reliance Industries, up 0.55 per cent at Rs 980.70; and HDFC Bank, up 0.54 per cent at Rs 1,989.70 per share.
The top losers were Dr Reddy's Lab, down 3.70 per cent at Rs 1,988.30; Tata Motors, down 2.34 per cent at Rs 333.35; Sun Pharma, down 1.85 per cent at Rs 496.95; Power Grid, down 1.77 per cent at Rs 207.95; and Bajaj Auto, down 1.62 per cent at Rs 2,827.80 per share.