Larsen &Toubro and Wipro were major losers from the Sensex pack. Bharat Heavy Electricals and Bharti Airtel were major gainers, while Reliance Energy recovered from lower levels. Asian markets were trading weak. Japan's Nikkei was down 0.93 per cent or 125.22 points at 13,325.01, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.85 pc or 209.29 points at 24,369.47, Taiwan's Taiwan Weighted fell 0.22 pc or 18.79 points at 8,711, Singapore's Straits Times declined 0.47 pc or 14.86 points 3,167.06 and South Korea's Seoul Composite dropped 1.03 pc or 18.26 points at 1,755.30.
Wall Street ended flat on fears about first quarter earnings. The Dow advanced 3.01 points, or 0.02 pc, to 12,612.43.
The S&P 500 index was up 2.14 points, or 0.16 pc, at 1,372.54. The Nasdaq composite index slipped by 6.15 points, or 0.26 pc, to 2,364.83, which partly led to downward trend in Indian bourses, brokers pointed out.
The 30-share BSE Sensex ended down by 169.46 points or 1.08 pc at 15,587.62. At the day's low of 15,479.42, Sensex lost 277.66 points in mid-morning trade. Sensex rose by 13.08 points at the day's high of 15,770.40 , at the onset of the trading session. BSE clocked a turnover of Rs 5,127 crore compared to a turnover of Rs 4,969.92 crore on last day's session.
The broader based S&P CNX Nifty index of National Stock Exchange (NSE) was down by 51.55 points or 1.08 pc at 4,709.65 at the end of the session. It resumed flat at 4760.65 points. later, it recorded the day's high at 4769.55 and low at 4677.80 points during the session.
The NSE cash turnover was at Rs 12331.78 crore and the NSE F&O turnover was at Rs 33143.36 crore. The BSE cash turnover was Rs 51340.69 crore. Total market wide turnover was at Rs 50609.83 crore.
Capital goods, IT, metal and oil&gas stocks declined. However BSE Mid-Cap and Small-Cap indices rose.
The market breadth was positive on BSE with 1384 shares advancing as compared to 1,217 that declined. 69 shares remained unchanged.
The major BSE indices also drifted lower. Metal index crashed by 266.98 points and ended low at 13,544.58 points, followed by CG index by 227.09 to 12,528.84 points, OILS&GAS index by 87.25 points to 10,462.87 points, IT index by 63.50 to 3685.07 points, TECK index by 33.04 to 3069.40 points, PSU by 28.92 to 7240.22 points and FMCG index by 11.93 to 2372.64 points.
However, the BSE Mid-Cap index was up by 38.30 points to Rs 6,383.02 and BSE Small-Cap index rose by 36.23 to 7,814.17 points.
The markets ended in red with moderate losses as selling pressure was seen in capital goods, FMCG, IT, oil stocks. Broader markets ended marginally in green with both midcap and smallcap up 0.5 per cent.
Wipro, L&T, JP Associates were among the top laggards. SAIL, Grasim, Bharti Airtel, Tata Communications were among the other losers.
Among the top gainers were BHEL, DLF, SBI, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Sterlite Industries.
However, select buying was seen in banking and midcap stocks.
Small cap index was trading absolutely flat.
Capital goods stocks drifted lower on profit booking by local operators. Larsen &Toubro lost by 5.29 per cent to Rs 2,576.10 even as company said it had bagged four orders worth Rs 1687 crore. The orders are for water supply projects, sinter plant and cold roll mill and a coal handling plant.
Suzlon Energy declined by 1.31 pc to Rs 290.40. However, India's largest power equipment maker by sales Bharat Heavy Electricals rose 4.67 pc to Rs 1,712.75.
Metal stocks also eased like Steel Authority of India was down by 6.14 pc to Rs 157.55 followed by National Aluminium Company by 3.55 pc to Rs 432.45, Tata Steel by 3.39 pc to Rs 656.30 and Hindalco Industries by 1.53 pc to Rs 170.30.
IT stocks like Wipro was down by 4.6 pc to Rs 414, Tata Consultancy Services eased by 1.64 pc to Rs 885.30, Infosys dropped by 2.07 pc to Rs 1,461.30 and Satyam Computer Sevices slipped by 0.71 pc to Rs 429.10.
Oil&Gas stocks declined wit ONGC down by 0.65 pc to Rs 1,011.25, Reliance Petroleum dropped by 1.57 pc to Rs 168.75 and Cairn India came down by 0.35 pc to Rs 227.25.
India's largest private sector company in terms of market capitalisation and oil refiner Reliance Industries declined by 1.02 pc to Rs 2,381.25. It recovered from its lows of Rs 2,358.60. A consortium of Reliance Industries (RIL) has reportedly discovered oil in Yemen. The discovery in Block 9 in Qarn Qaymah 2 well is considered to be significant, and RIL is in process of evaluating the viability.
Jaiprakash Associates was down by 4.48 pc to Rs 221.55 followed by Ranbaxy Laboratories by 2.71 pc to Rs 470.75, Grasim Industries by 2.56 pc to Rs 2,560.40, Hindustan Unilever by 2.02 pc to Rs 247.90, Maruti Suzuki India by 1.91 pc to Rs 744.20, and NTPC by 2.12 pc to Rs 186.55.
However, a few leading stocks were in limelight on scattered bull support by FIIs. ICICI Bank was up by 0.49 pc to Rs 813.25 followed by DLF by 0.68 pc to Rs 621.25, Bharti Airtel by 1.25 pc to Rs 828.60, HDFC by 0.13 pc to Rs 2,309.50, State Bank of India by 0.09 pc to Rs 1,674.80 and HDFC Bank by 0.09 pc to s 1,304.30 edged higher from the Sensex pack.
A depreciation of the rupee against the dollar is likely to give good results to the IT sector on a sequential basis in Q4 March 2008 as compared to Q3 December 2007, though the focus here is on guidance for the year ending March 2009 from IT bellwether Infosys Technologies.