The Sensex, which had gained 137 points in the previous session, closed with a loss of 81.73 points to 20,221.39, after touching the day's high of 20,344.68.
In similar fashion, the broad-based National Stock Exchange index shuttled between 6,120.25 and 6,074.65, before ending with a loss of 23.80 points at 6,082.00.
Trading sentiment remained bearish, as Asian pears turned weak while strong capital inflows kept undertone upbeat and minimised the losses. Investors turned somewhat cautious and kept their interest confined to specific areas, as 12 stocks in 30-BSE index component were higher and other 18 closed with losses.
Stocks of metal, bank and healthcare drove the market downward but a rise in consumer durable, auto and FMCG on expectations of higher revenue from current festival sales, saved the market market from any major fall.
The metal sector index suffered the most by losing 1.21 per cent to 17,000.46 as Tata Steel fell by Rs 16.30 to Rs 605.43 and Hindalco Industries Ltd -- the biggest aluminium producer -- declined by Rs 3.45 to Rs 217.70, paring its 4.4 per cent climb yesterday.
The banking sector index was second worst performer by falling 0.81 per cent to 14,059.42, followed by PSU index by 0.77 per cent to 10,390.88. Healthcare by 0.62 per cent to 6,506.09 and power index by 0.58 per cent to 3,212.93.
Tata Consultancy, the biggest software services provider and a index kitty stock, dropped 0.32 per cent to Rs 1,060.25, reversing a three-day, 11 per cent gain. The heaviest weight stock, Reliance Industries, gained Rs 6.15 to Rs 1,096.50 and auto major Maruti Suzuki Udhyog by Rs 54.20 to Rs 1,562.85.
Normally, auto and consumer durable sale picks up during the Diwali festival, considering it an auspicious day in Hindu mythology for buying new products, brokers said.
They said purchases of watches, branded jewellery and other households rises on account of gifts during the festival and supports the FMCG counter to some extent.
Titan Industries, a leading jewellery and watches producer, rose 6.22 per cent to Rs 3,491.35 after saying second-quarter profit rose 65 per cent from a year earlier. The undercurrent of the market was bullish as foreign investors pumped in a record 70 per cent funds into Indian equity markets this year, making the benchmark index the most expensive in Asia and among the world’s leading markets.