Mumbai: Falling for the second day, the BSE benchmark Sensex on Friday closed at its weakest level since December 24 on subdued buying by funds ahead of Union Budget.
The S&P BSE Sensex ended 8.35 points, or 0.04 percent, lower at 19,317.01. It moved between 19,401.75 and 19,289.83 during the session. The index had lost 317 points on Thursday.
On December 24, 2012 the index had closed of 19,255.09.
While Bharti led gainers with a jump of 4.6 percent on its USD 1 billion bond sale plan, the 30-share Sensex was dragged down by over 2 percent losses each in HUL, Maruti Suzuki and Coal India.
ITC ended 1.5 percent lower on fears of excise duty hike and HDFC closed nearly 2 percent lower on reports of Goldman Sachs downgrading the stock to 'sell' rating, dealers said.
RIL closed 0.7 percent up amid construction beginning on the USD 450 million butyl rubber plant the company is building along with its partner Russia's Sibuar at Jamnagar.
Infosys and ICICI Bank gained 1 percent each on value buying activity after yesterday's losses, traders said.
Overall, realty, IT, healthcare and oil & gas stocks saw purchases while FMCG, auto and metal scrips witnessed selling.
Similarly, the broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty fell by 1.95 points, or 0.03 percent, to 5,850.30. It moved between 5,873.80 and 5,835.80 during the session.
Brokers said market participants were cautious ahead of Union Budget this month-end and refrained from increasing their positions amid expiry of derivatives next Thursday.
Narrowly mixed Asian closing also weighed on the domestic market sentiment while firm European opening provided some support.
For the week, Sensex closed 1 percent down.
Chinese shares ended down by 0.51 percent, amid concerns
that strength in the Chinese property market and other factors may lead Beijing to tighten policy.
Other key benchmark indices in Hong Kong and Taiwan settled with losses while those from Japan, Singapore and South Korea ended with gains.
However, European markets resumed higher as investors moved back into risk assets on the back of Thursday's heavy sell-off. The CAC was up by 1.10 percent, the DAX by 0.48 percent and the FTSE by 0.67 percent.
Turning to the local market, 15 out of the Sensex scrips declined while 14 gained. Tata Power ruled steady.
Major losers from Sensex pack were HUL that dropped by 2.60 percent, followed by Coal India (2.31 percent), Maruti Suzuki (2.09 percent), HDFC (1.84 percent), Tata Motors (1.60 percent) and ITC (1.50 percent).
However, Bharti Airtel rose by 4.64 percent, followed by Wipro (2.43 percent), Sun Pharma (1.96 percent), ICICI Bank (1.22 percent), Infosys (1.06 percent) and M&M (0.95 percent).
Among the sectoral indices, the BSE-FMCG fell by 1.41 percent, followed by BSE-Auto (0.55 percent) and BSE-Metal (0.53 percent) while the BSE-Realty firmed up by 1.35 percent, BSE-Teck by 1.33 percent and BSE-IT by 0.83 percent.
The market breadth continued to show negative trend as 1,071 scrips ended with losses while 1,037 scrips finished with losses and 886 closed unchanged. The total turnover fell to Rs 1,724.64 crore from Rs 1,957.61 crore on Thursday.
Meanwhile, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) bought shares worth a net Rs 1,213.57 crore on Thursday, as per provisional data from the stock exchanges.