In the absence of any significant market moving proposals in the union budget presented Thursday, a benchmark index for Indian equities tanked nearly two percent in volatile trade.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's budget proposals like higher taxes on corporates and individuals further weighed on the markets.
His plan to liberalise the Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme (RGESS) by extending it beyond one year to three years and raising the income limit under the scheme from Rs.10 lakh to Rs.12 lakh did not help much.
Capital goods, bank, metal, public sector undertakings (PSUs) and oil and gas stocks plummeted. Consumer durables, information technology (IT) and technology, media and entertainment stocks, however, moved up.
The 30 scrip Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), which opened at 19,264.80 points, closed at 18,861.54 points, down 290.87 points or 1.52 percent from its previous close at 19,152.41 points.
The Sensex touched an intra-day high of 19,322.28 points and a low of 19,793.97 points. The midcap index was down 158.95 points, while the smallcap index dipped 124.83 points.
The wider 50-scrip S&P CNX Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed lower by 103.85 points or 1.79 percent at 5,693.05 points.
The BSE bank index closed lower by 491.82 points, followed by capital goods, down 321.79 points, metal index, down 275.39 points, PSUs index, down 198.27 points, and the oil and gas index, down 143.97 points.
The BSE consumer durables index was up 60.61 points, while the IT index moved 31.78 points higher and the TECk index was up 4.19 points.
On the other hand, the BSE capital goods index was up 223.57 points, followed by the bank index, which closed 109.30 points higher, metal index, up 102.87 points, oil and gas index, up 102.05 points and the public sector undertakings (PSU) index, up 72.10 points.
The major losers included State Bank of India (SBI), down 5.80 percent at Rs.2,085.40; Tata Steel, down 4.04 percent at Rs.342.35; ICICI Bank, down 3.86 percent at Rs.1,040.30; Maruti Suzuki, down 3.74 percent at Rs.1,356.65; and Larsen and Toubro (L&T), down 3.17 percent at Rs.1,365.80.
Only five of the 30 Sensex companies were gainers. These were Tata Consultancy Service (TCS), up 2.14 percent at Rs.1,514.75; Bharti Airtel, up 0.62 percent at Rs.323.55; Tata Motors, up 0.49 percent at Rs.287.40; Sun Pharma, up 0.40 percent at Rs.802.50; and Bajaj Auto, up 0.35 percent at Rs.1,971.60.
Among other Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei closed 2.71 percent higher, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended 1.96 percent up. China's Shanghai Composite Index also closed 2.26 percent higher.
In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.31 percent, while the German DAX was trading 0.74 percent higher. The French CAC 40 was up 0.35 percent.