The BSE benchmark Sensex on Thursday closed 94 points down on selling pressure triggered by growth concerns amid monthly expiry in the derivatives segment.

The index closed 93.66 points lower, or 0.48 per cent, to 19,323.80 on heavy selling in the last 30-minute of trade.

The broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty lost 35.50 points, or 0.60 per cent, to 5,870.10, after touching the day’s high of 5,930.80.

Brokers said selling pressure emerged after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the country faces many challenges to achieve sustainable growth.

Describing the current economic situation as a difficult one, Dr Manmohan Singh hinted at tough decisions like hike in energy prices and reduction of subsidies to achieve the growth target of 8 per cent in the 12th Five Year Plan.

Investors offloading their positions created recently on the last day of December month expiry in the derivatives segment further fuelled the downtrend, brokers said.

In 30-BSE index components, 21 stocks fell led by two heaviest — Reliance Industries by 1.20 per cent to Rs 818.05 and Infosys by 1.06 per cent to Rs 2,286.85. The two carry nearly 18 per cent weightage on the benchmark.

The information technology sector suffered the most by losing 0.77 per cent to 5,618.81 followed by oil and gas index by 0.69 per cent to 8,312.85.

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