Market benchmark Sensex today dropped by 46 points, after taking a day’s breather, to close at 24,824.83 as banking stocks came under selling pressure ahead of the Reserve Bank monetary policy meet.
Domestic investors ignored a strong set of manufacturing numbers and preferred to stay light on positions before the RBI meet tomorrow, where it is likely to keep monetary policy steady amid Chinese manufacturing activity falling to lowest level in three years to 49.4 in January.
ICICI Bank with a loss of 5.63 per cent was the worst hit from the Sensex pack followed by SBI at 3.92 per cent down.
After a higher start, Sensex regained 25,000 to touch the day’s high of 25,002.32 but on emergence of profit-booking it fell to hit the day’s low of 24,788.58.
Finally, the index ended 45.86 points or 0.18 per cent down at 24,824.83. The gauge had gained 401.12 points in the previous session on positive global cues after Bank of Japan adopted a negative interest rate policy.
The broader NSE Nifty eased by 7.60 points or 0.10 per cent to close at 7,555.95.
Meanwhile, manufacturing sector returned to growth in January, expanding at a four-month high pace on rise in new business orders, a monthly survey showed today, adding to the expectations of RBI keeping rates unchanged.
From auto sector, Maruti Suzuki, Hero MotoCorp and Bajaj Auto saw selling pressure and fell up to 3.68 per cent on tepid monthly sales figures for January.
Out of the 30-share Sensex, 16 scrips ended lower.
Major losers were ICICI Bank (5.63 pc) SBI (3.92 pc), Axis Bank (2.17 pc), HUL (1.96 pc) and Dr Reddy’s (1.73 pc).
However, Adani Ports rose by 3.67 per cent followed by Coal India 2.67 per cent and Bharti Airtel 2.35 per cent.
Stocks of engineering major L&T ended 1.81 per cent higher after the company posted 19 per cent growth in consolidated net profit for the Q3 ended December 31.
Sectorwise, BSE banking index fell the most by tumbling 1.40 per cent, followed by power (0.55 pc), PSU (0.38 pc), auto (0.36 pc), oil&gas (0.26 pc) and healthcare (0.14 pc).
The broader markets, however, outperformed with the mid-cap index and small-cap rising up to 0.57 per cent.
Other Asian markets ended mostly lower as key indices like Hong Kong fell by 0.45 per cent, Singapore shed 1.06 per cent, while Shanghai index dropped 1.78 per cent.
European stocks were trading in negative terrain in their early trade as disappointing Chinese data dented investor enthusiasm after the last week’s rebound.