The Bombay Stcok Exchange benchmark Sensex fell by almost 44 points in early trade on Thursday as funds and retail investors preferred to book profits after Wednesday’s gains.

The 30-share barometer, which gained 74.53 points in the last session, moved down by 43.58 points, or 0.24 per cent, to 18,461.80 with stocks of FMCG, oil and gas, and metal sectors leading the fall.

Similarly, the wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty shed 10.70 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 5,609.

Brokers said besides profit-booking by speculators, a mixed trend at the Asian markets following overnight losses at European and the US markets, influenced the sentiments.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei Index gained 0.08 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 0.31 per cent in early trade Thursday.

In the US market, which resumed after a two-day shutdown forced by superstorm Sandy, Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.08 per cent lower in Tuesday’s trade.

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