Frontline indices the Sensex and the Nifty ended in the red for the second consecutive day on March 24 amid weak global cues.
Investor sentiment remained fragile as the Ukraine war continues while the Western leaders are meeting in Brussels to discuss increasing military aid to Ukraine.
Crude oil prices eased but traded above the $120 a barrel mark, not giving much relief to investors. The rupee ended 7 paise lower at 76.37 per dollar on March 24, as per the Bloomberg data.
Sensex opened at 57,190.05 against the previous close of 57,684.82 and remained choppy throughout the session. Eventually, the 30-share pack closed with a loss of 89 points, or 0.15 percent, at 57,595.68 while the Nifty settled 23 points, or 0.13 percent, lower at 17,222.75.
Sensex saw 15 stocks ending in the green and the same number of stocks ending in the red. Dr Reddy's Labs (up 4.90 percent), Ultratech Cement (up 1.77 percent) and Reliance Industries (up 1.50 percent) ended as the top gainers in the Sensex index. On the flip side, Kotak Mahindra Bank (down 3.09 percent), Titan (down 2.63 percent) and HDFC Bank (down 2.23 percent) ended as the top laggards.
Mid and smallcap indices outperformed the benchmarks as the BSE Midcap index rose 0.34 percent while the smallcap index logged a gain of 0.16 percent.
Banking and financial stocks remained under pressure. The BSE Bankex index fell 1.69 percent, ending as the top loser among the sectoral indices. Consumer durables and finance indices closed with losses of 1.58 percent and 1.30 percent, respectively.
On the other hand, metal stocks continued shining. BSE Metal index ended 1.61 percent higher, followed by energy (up 1.21 percent), oil & gas (up 1.13 percent) and teck (up 1.13 percent).
On the NSE, theNifty Private Bank index fell 1.79 percent, Nifty Bank 1.72 percent and Nifty Financial Services 1.56 percent.
Analysts are expecting rangebound trade in the near term and point out 17,300 odd levels are the immediate hurdle for the Nifty.
"The intraday formation indicates the continuation of a range-bound activity in the near term. For the bulls, 17,325 could be the immediate hurdle and below the same, a correction wave could continue up to 17,100-17,060. Above 17,325, Nifty could go up to 17,375-17,425 levels. Contra traders can take a long bet near 17,060 with a strict 17,030 support stop loss," said Shrikant Chouhan, Head of Equity Research (Retail), Kotak Securities.