Mumbai: In its biggest fall in five weeks, Sensex plummeted over 371 points to slip below the 25,000-mark as investors booked profits in recent out-performers ahead of derivatives settlement and the closing of 2015-16 financial year on Thursday.
The 50-share NSE Nifty also cracked the 7,700-mark with a plunge of over 101 points.
Besides, a mixed closing at other Asian markets and absence of cues from the European bourses, which were closed today for a public holiday, too weighed on trading sentiments here, brokers said.
The gauge fell below the psychological 25,000-level to touch a low of 24,895.49 due to widespread profit-booking before and ended lower by 371.16 points, or 1.46 per cent, to 24,966.40.
After a long break, the markets opened on a strong footing this morning and touched the day's high of 25,432.94 on sustained foreign fund inflows, but sell-off accelerated towards the afternoon trade.
Stock exchanges were closed on Thursday and Friday for 'Holi' and 'Good Friday', respectively.
The index had risen 660.19 points in the past four sessions.
Trimming of positions by participants in view of the closing of FY 2015-16 and derivatives expiry on Thursday affected the markets sentiment, the brokers said.
The NSE Nifty tumbled 101.40 points, or 1.31 per cent, to 7,615.10 after shuttling between 7,749.40 and 7,587.70.
Of the 30-share Sensex pack, 27 lost while NTPC, Bajaj Auto and GAIL finished higher.
Stock of Tata Steel bore the brunt by tumbling 5.23 per cent to Rs 300.05, followed by SBI by 4.24 per cent to Rs 188.45 and Sun Pharma by 4.20 per cent to Rs 811.05.
Other laggards included ICICI Bank, Tata Motors, Axis Bank, L&T, BHEL, Maruti Suzuki, Bharti Airtel, Lupin, HDFC Ltd, Cipla, Coal India, Hindustan Unilever, Adani Ports and M&M, falling as much as 3.86 per cent.
Sectorwise, the BSE realty index fell 4.35 per cent, followed by metal 3.92 per cent, consumer durables 3.48 per cent, capital goods 2.08 per cent and healthcare 1.95 per cent, banking 1.92 per cent and auto 1.45 per cent.
The small-cap and mid-cap indices were no exceptions, which retreated 1.65 per cent and 1.36 per cent, respectively.
Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) continued their buying spree as they bought shares worth Rs 976.91 crore on last Wednesday, as per provisional data of stock exchanges.
Globally, Shanghai Composite index ended 0.73 per cent down, while Japan's Nikkei rose 0.77 per cent in Asian trade. Hong Kong and European markets are closed today for a public holiday.