In choppy trade, the BSE benchmark Sensex on Monday ended almost flat after gains in HDFC, Cipla and Wipro were offset by losses in TCS, Reliance Industries and ICICI Bank amid a weak trend in European markets.

The Sensex, which touched the day’s high of 19,478.01 at the outset, fell back to 19,362.32 before ending slightly better at 19,409.69 -- a loss of 14.41 points. In the 30-share index, 13 stocks gained while 17 declined.

Brokers said the trading activity was restricted as foreign investors trimmed their portfolios by booking profits in selective counters before the calendar year ends.

On similar lines, the National Stock Exchange index closed a mere 1.50 points lower at 5,908.90, after moving in a narrow range for a major part of the session.

Across the overall market, apart from realty and healthcare sector, the banking sector bucked the general weak trend on hopes the legislation on banking sector reforms would be passed during the current session of Parliament.

“Markets are witnessing profit-booking at higher levels.

European indices were down and U.S. futures also indicated lower opening, which also affected the market mood,” said Nidhi Sarswat, Senior Research Analyst, Bonanza Portfolio.

In global markets, European stocks weakened on concerns that a leadership change in Italy could stall efforts to curb the debt crisis in Eurozone. Reports stated Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said he has lost support and will resign.

The U.K.’s FTSE, France’s CAC and Germany’s DAX were trading 0.4-0.8 per cent lower in afternoon trades.

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