The BSE Sensex fell by 150 points to close at 33,685.54 in a volatile trade, extending losses for a third day as banking, FMCG and IT shares fell amid fresh LoU fraud scare and intensifying trade war worries.
Banking stocks led by Yes Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and SBI came under heavy selling pressure after the CBI registered a fresh case relating to "fraudulent" issuance of Rs 9 crore of LoUs to Chandri Papers and Allied Products by PNB's Brady House branch.
The broader NSE Nifty fell below the key 10,400-mark and touched a low of 10,346.20, before ending down 50.75 points, or 0.49 per cent, at 10,360.15.
"Market continued to consolidate in a narrow range following the mixed trend in the global market. World Bank prediction of 7.3% growth in FY19 will give a positive long-term sentiment but global trade concerns and scepticism on upcoming state elections will refrain market for a decisive up move," Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services said.
The World Bank and Fitch projected India's GDP growth at 7.3 per cent for the next financial year and accelerate further to 7.5 per cent in 2019-20, which helped limit the fall.
The US challenging India's export subsidy schemes at the WTO fanned fears of trade war amid reports that President Donald Trump might take additional action against Chinese products,.
Asian markets ended mixed after the Wall Street declined amid concerns that the US could impose severe tariffs on Chinese imports and that the US Federal Reserve could raise interest rates as early as next week.
After opening in the positive zone at 33,843.47, the Sensex advanced to the day's high of 33,866.28 at the outset. It later gave up gains and fell to a low of 33,637.28, dragged down by banking stocks. However, the index managed to recoup some of the losses after European shares opened better. The 30-share barometer closed down by 150.20 points or 0.44 per cent at 33,685.54. The benchmark had lost 82.20 points in the previous two sessions.
"Volatility ruled the roost as mixed global and domestic cues left investors indecisive and unsure about the near-term trend of the markets," Karthikraj Lakshmanan, Senior Fund Manager-Equities, BNP Paribas Mutual Fund said.
Among the Sensex components, Yes Bank emerged as the biggest loser by falling 2.04 per cent, followed by RIL 1.76 per cent.
ICICI Bank fell 1.60 per cent, Axis bank 1.23 per cent, and SBI 1.13 per cent. The federal bank and Bank of Baroda, falling up to 1.37 per cent.
Other stocks that pulled down the key indices include HUL, Tata Steel, ITC, Sun Pharma, HDFC, TCS, L&T, Bharti Airtel, Tata Motors, NTPC, Adani Ports, Maruti Suzuki and Power Grids, falling up to 1.48 per cent.
Gitanjali Gems stock continued its downturn, cracking 4.78 per cent to Rs 12.95. PNB shares also shed 0.70 per cent.
Asian Paints was the biggest gainer in the Sensex kitty, rising 2.14 per cent, followed by HDFC Bank which advanced 0.79 per cent.
Other gainers were M&M, Coal India, ONGC, IndusInd Bank, Heromotocorp, Kotak Bank, Infosys and Dr Reddy's, rising up to 0.67 per cent.
Fertiliser stocks were in the limelight after the government approved a proposal to extend urea subsidy till 2020.
Shares of Nagarjuna Fertilisers and Chemicals soared 9.82 per cent, National Fertilisers 5.15 per cent, Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers 4.11 per cent, Coromandel International 5.37 per cent and Chambal Fertilisers & Chemicals 2.13 per cent, restricted the fall.
State-owned MMTC soared 20 per cent today after the company said its board will meet on March 19 to consider a bonus issue.
The share price of Havells India rose 0.72 per cent as the company signed an agreement with the South Korean firm.
Among sectoral indices, the BSE energy index suffered the most by falling 1.16 per cent, followed by oil & gas (1.04 per cent), metal (0.54 per cent), FMCG (0.52 per cent), banks (0.49 per cent) and teck (0.24 per cent). Infrastructure and power, however, ended in the positive zone.
Bucking the trend, the broader markets ended in the green, with the small-cap index rising 0.80 per cent and mid-cap up 0.49 per cent.
In the Asian region, Singapore fell 0.61 per cent and Shanghai Composite Index down 0.01 per cent, while Japan's Nikkei ended higher 0.12 per cent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged higher 0.34 per cent.
European markets moved higher as investors monitored new earnings and economic data, amid continued concerns over global trade.
In the Eurozone, Paris CAC 40 rose 0.57 per cent while Frankfurt's DAX up 0.87 per cent in early deals. London's FTSE was higher 0.31 per cent.