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 per cent. 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 per cent 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 per cent followed by ICICI Bank at 2.59 per cent.
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 per cent while China moved up by 2.25 per cent.
While key indices in Europe, like France, Germany and the UK's FTSE fell by 0.72-0.88 per cent. Also, brent crude dropped to an 11-year low by slumping 4.27 per cent 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 pc), ICICI Bank (2.59 pc), Tata Motors (2.39 pc), Tata Steel (2.04 pc), M&M (1.95 pc), Maruti (1.94 pc), ONGC (1.82 pc), Adani Ports (1.78 pc), Lupin (1.60 pc), Asian Paints (1.59 pc), Hero Motocorp (1.50 pc), L&T (1.41 pc), Axis Bank (1.27 pc) and Sun Pharma (1.09 pc).
However, Reliance rose by 2.67 per cent followed by Cipla 1.75 per cent, TCS 1.31 per cent, Coal India 0.44 per cent and HDFC Bank 0.33 per cent.
Among BSE sectoral and industries, FMCG fell by 1.57 per cent followed by metal 1.48 per cent, auto 1.24 per cent, capital goods 1.32 per cent, industrials 1.09 per cent, telecom 1.07 per cent and realty 0.85 per cent, however energy rose 1.42 per cent followed by oil&gas 0.76 per cent, and IT 0.01 per cent.
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.f