The benchmark Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange snapped its four-day winning steak to close the day lower by nearly 58 points in another tepid session amid weak global cues.

After moving in a narrow range, the barometer index concluded the day at 17,343.82, a fall of 57.74 points or 0.33 per cent from its previous close.

The 50-issue Nifty of the NSE also softened by 18.50 points or 0.36 per cent to settle the day at 5,169.45.

Brokers said the market was trapped in a narrow range as there was no clear direction either from the domestic front or from overseas bourses which are yet to come out of holiday mood. Markets discarded Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee ruling out immediate withdrawal of stimulus. Investors took note of his comments that deficit has to be contained.

The markets had gained a massive 800 points in the previous four days of trading and the Sensex on December 24 closed at 19-month high of 17,360.61.

Investor sentiment had got a boost after hefty advance tax payment by India Inc last week. Mukherjee’s remarks last week that stimulus would continue for some more time and his optimistic projection of growth also lifted the sentiment.

However, intense speculations that the Reserve Bank would signal hike in interest rates had kept the market uncertain.

During the year, the Sensex has gained nearly 80 per cent making it one of the best performing years for the markets.

Marektmen said every bout of buying was immediately followed by selling, adding expiry of December contract also weighed against the market sentiment.

“The Indian bourses traded flat for the day on the back of weak global markets. The market is expected to remain volatile due expiry of derivative contracts tomorrow,” said Bonanza Portfolio Assistant Vice President Avinash Gupta.

Most of the Asian markets ended mixed after Japan Airlines Corporation tumbled on reports that the carrier’s biggest lenders opposed a plan to restructure the company through bankruptcy.

The benchmark indices from China, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan ended in the green, while Hong Kong and Japan finished with losses.

European markets exhibited a feeble trend in their early trade. The DAX was down by 0.59 per cent, the CAC by 0.37 per cent and the FTSE by 0.24 per cent.

Reflecting hectic retail buying, small-cap and mid-cap counters attracted good buying support. Barring FMCG, which came under some profit selling, most of sectoral indices ended flat. FMCG index took a hit of 1.12 per cent.

Among the Sensex scrips, ITC declined by 2.15 per cent, Hero Honda 2.08 per cent, Sun Pharma 1.26 per cent, Hindalco 1.23 per cent, Tata Steel 1.17 per cent and L&T 1.13 per cent.

However, REL Infra rose by 1.59 per cent, ACC 1.29 per cent and Grasim Ind 1.17 per cent.

The overall market breadth was positive as 1,780 counters ended with gains while 1,082 finished with losses on the BSE.

The trading volume was higher at Rs 4,327.29 crore from Rs 3,945.05 crore on Tuesday. Tata Steel topped the list of highest traded securities with the turnover of Rs 140.35 crore.

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