Mumbai: The benchmark BSE Sensex plunged by 215 points on Thursday to settle at a three-week low of 24,785.42 on profit-booking in consumer durables, IT and banking stocks as investors trimmed bets ahead of the start of earnings season.
Besides, the NSE Nifty fell below the crucial 7,600-mark.
A cautious strategy adopted by investors ahead of the upcoming fourth quarter earnings amid mixed global cues led to the fall, brokers said.
The 30-share BSE index resumed higher at 24,998.79 against last closing of 24,900.63. The index firmed up to regain the 25,000-mark and touched the day's high of 25,013.13.
However, selling towards the middle of the session dragged the index to a low of 24,647.48. It finally settled 215.21 points or 0.86 percent lower at 24,685.42, its weakest closing since March 17.
Among Sensex constituents, stocks of Adani Ports suffered the most by falling 3.36 percent to Rs 217.10, followed by Maruti Suzuki, country's largest carmaker, which plunged 2.81 percent to Rs 3,471.65.
HDFC dropped 2.58 percent to Rs 1,072.65 after housing lender said it will make a one-time provision of Rs 450 crore in the quarter ended March 31.
Other prominent laggards included L&T, ITC Ltd, Infosys, Wipro, Tata Steel, HUL, ICICI Bank, SBI, Bajaj Auto, Bharti Airtel, Asian Paints, M&M, Tata Motors and HDFC Bank.
Of the 30-Sensex kitty, 18 stocks ended lower, while 12 including BHEL, Coal India, Lupin, Dr Reddy's, ONGC, RIL, NTPC, Axis Bank, Sun Pharma and Cipla finished higher.
The broader NSE Nifty slipped below 7,600-level by falling 67.90 points or 0.89 percent to close at 7,546.45. Intra-day, it hovered between 7,630.75 and 7,535.85.
Sectorwise, BSE consumer durables index suffered the most by falling 2.03 percent followed by capital goods at 1.18 percent, IT (1.18 pc), FMCG (1.17 pc), auto (1.17 pc), teck (1.13 pc), bankex (0.69 pc) and realty (0.67 pc).
Broader markets too saw profit-booking, dragging down the BSE mid-cap and small-cap indices by up to 0.45 percent.
Meanwhile, regional stock markets struggled despite the dovish tone of the Federal Reserve's in minutes from the last meeting.
European stocks swung between gains and losses in their morning session.