Sensex down 81 points on profit booking

Owing to heavy selling pressure in blue-chip stocks such as RIL, Bharti Airtel, ICICI Bank and HDFC, the 30-share index of the Bombay Stock Exchange settled at 19,861 points, down by 80.71 points over the previous close.

In a similar fashion, the National Stock Exchange's Nifty Index finished the session 0.52 per cent lower at 5,959.55.

Session was choppy on Dalal Street and investors were cautious ahead of the judgement in Ayodhya title but later recovered to some extent after the Supreme Court stayed the verdict for a week, some brokers said.

The verdict was due to be pronounced by Allahabad High Court tomorrow.

Markets had regained the magical 20,000-mark two days ago after a gap of 32 months on persistent fund flows.

"The market has seen an impressive move in the recent sessions, now it is witnessing consolidation which is good for the overall health of Dalal Street," Geojit BNP Paribas Research Head Alex Mathews said.

Besides, lack of cues from Asian peers and some weakness in Europe dampened sentiments here, analysts said. Rising food inflation also worsened sentiment, they added.

Food inflation rose for the fourth straight week to 15.46 per cent for the week ended September 11.

Telecom major Bharti Airtel led the losers pack and ended 1.88 per cent lower. RCom, another leading telco, too declined by 1.24 per cent.

Falling for the third straight day, Reliance Industries Ltd, which holds the maximum weight in the Sensex, ended 1.60 per cent lower at Rs 1,002.95.

Banking stocks led the decline in the benchmark indices. Among the other major laggards were the realty and the oil & gas stocks.

ICICI Bank declined 1.65 per cent, HDFC 0.77 per cent, HDFC Bank 0.75 and SBI 0.23 per cent. BHEL declined 0.79 per cent.

"After a strong run-up the past few days, markets are expected to trade in a narrow range in the short term as there are no near-term catalysts," Reliance Securities said in a note.

In the BSE-30 pack, 23 stocks ended with losses, while 7 scrips managed to buck the trend.

State-owned ONGC surged 1.82 per cent after the energy major said it has discovered two oil and gas blocks.

Auto major M&M rose 0.68 per cent HUL 0.27 per cent and Infosys 0.19 per cent.

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