MUMBAI: The benchmark BSE Sensex plunged by over 244 points today to settle below the 29,000-level, due to profit-booking in healthcare, tech and auto stocks as investors trimmed their bets ahead of the start of earnings season.
Meanwhile, NSE Nifty fell for the first time in eight days to end at 8,750.20, down 83.80 points.
A cautious stance adopted by investors ahead of the fourth quarter earnings by several bluechip companies amid mixed global cues led to the fall in domestic markets, brokers said.
The 30-share BSE index resumed higher at 29,087.25 against last close of 29,044.44 points. The barometer firmed up further to the day's high of 29,094.61 on the back of easing retail inflation.
However, selling in bluechips in the late trade dragged the index below the 29,000-level. It finally settled 244.75 points or 0.84 per cent lower at 28,799.69.
Of 30-Sensex kitty, 23 stocks ended lower, while 7 other finished higher.
The 50-issue Nifty slipped below 8,800-level by falling 83.80 points or 0.95 per cent to close at 8,750.20. Intraday, it hovered between 8,840.80 and 8,722.40.
Investors, who had been accumulating stocks from previous several sessions, turned cautious ahead of earnings from bluechips such as TCS, Infosys and RIL and indulged in offloading their positions by booking profits, brokers said.
Meanwhile, continuing the deflationary trend for fifth month in a row, inflation touched a record low of (-)2.33 per cent in March on cheaper manufactured goods and food items.
The broader markets which were outperforming the Sensex at the midsession too saw profit-booking towards the close.
The BSE midcap index ended in negative zone with a fall of 0.51 per cent while smallcap index ended 0.34 per cent down.
Meanwhile, a mixed trend was seen other Asian markets, while European markets were trading higher in its morning session.
Sectorwise, BSE healthcare index suffered the most by falling 1.55 per cent, followed by infra at 1.54 per cent, auto (1.49 pc), IT (1.46 pc), realty (1.37 pc), power (1.29 pc), capital goods (0.96 pc), metal (0.58 pc), bankex (0.32 pc) and consumer durables (0.24 pc).
Meanwhile, Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) and Domestic Institutional Investors (DIIs) bought shares worth Rs 417.01 crore and Rs 46.42 crore on Monday, as per provisional data.