Mumbai: Global cues continued to batter Indian equities as the benchmark BSE Sensex slipped for a third day by 174 points to hit a three-week low of 25,406.33, bogged down by China continuing to devalue its currency and news of a nuclear test in North Korea.
Markets, which were trading almost flat in late afternoon deals, took a sudden plunge of more than 200 points after reports emerged that German police has sealed off Chancellor Angela Merkel's office to check a suspicious package.
Authorities later lifted the security cordon in Berlin after inspecting a batch of suspicious mail.
Resuming higher at 25,628.23, the Sensex touched the day's high of 25,632.57 on the back of spurt in RIL and a few other blue-chip stocks.
However, the index later slipped into the negative zone and touched a low of 25,357.70 before ending at 25,406.33, a fall of 174.01 points or 0.68 percent. This is the lowest closing since December 15, when it had closed at 25,320.44.
The NSE Nifty also remained under pressure and dropped 43.65 points or 0.56 percent to close the day at 7,741.00.
"While the Chinese central bank's decision to lower Yuan's midpoint rate may have helped its equity markets recover, across the globe it added to the weakness in stocks and assets exposed to commodities and minerals," said Anand James Co Head Technical Research Desk Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services.
Global sentiment, already rattled by row between Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as concerns over China's economy, took a
further hit on escalating geopolitical after North Korea claimed its has tested a hydrogen bomb.
Meanwhile, a monthly PMI survey showing that India's services sector activity touched a ten-month high in December driven by a significant rise in new business orders failed to cheer the market mood.
From the Sensex kitty, ITC was the worst-hit, down 2.96 percent followed by ICICI Bank at 2.59 percent.
Others losers included Tata Motors, M&M, Maruti Suzuki, Adani Ports, Asian Paints, ONGC, Hero MotoCorp, Lupin, L&T, Sun Pharma, Axix Bank and HUL.
Elsewhere, key indices in Asia, like Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South korea and Taiwan moved down between 0.26 and 1.05 percent while China moved up by 2.25 percent.
While key indices in Europe, like France, Germany and the UK's FTSE fell by 0.72-0.88 percent.
Also, brent crude dropped to an 11-year low by slumping 4.27 percent to USD 35.63 per barrel before weekly US government data forecast.
Back home, 25 scrips out of the 30-share Sensex pack ended lower.
Major losers were ITC (2.96 percent), ICICI Bank (2.59 percent), Tata Motors (2.39 percent), Tata Steel (2.04 percent), M&M (1.95 percent), Maruti (1.94 percent), ONGC (1.82 percent), Adani Ports (1.78 percent), Lupin (1.60 percent), Asian Paints (1.59 percent), Hero Motocorp (1.50 percent), L&T (1.41 percent), Axis Bank (1.27 percent) and Sun Pharma (1.09 percent).
However, Reliance rose by 2.67 percent followed by Cipla 1.75 percent, TCS 1.31 percent, Coal India 0.44 percent and HDFC Bank 0.33 percent.
Among BSE sectoral and industries, FMCG fell by 1.57 percent followed by metal 1.48 percent, auto 1.24 percent, capital goods 1.32 percent, industrials 1.09 percent, telecom 1.07 percent and realty 0.85 percent, however energy rose 1.42 percent followed by oil&gas 0.76 percent, and IT 0.01 percent.
The market breadth turned negative as 1,515 ended lower, 1,404 closed higher while 112 ruled steady. The total turnover increased about Rs 4,098.78 crore from Rs 3,522.50 crore yesterday.