The Indian equity benchmarks edged lower on Thursday ahead of expiry of weekly index futures and option contracts dragged down by weakness in Infosys, Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank and Sun Pharma. However, the losses were capped owing to buying interest in Bajaj Finance, State Bank of India, ITC and Bharti Airtel. The Sensex fell as much as 214 points and Nifty 50 index held on to its important support level of 17,900.
As of 9:23 am, the Sensex was down 142 points at 60,118 and Nifty 50 index declined 35 points to 17,910.
Most of the Asian markets were trading lower taking cues from weak closing in the US markets. Japan's Nikkei fell 0.77 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.5 per cent and Taiwan Weighted dropped 0.75 per cent.
Overnight, stocks on Wall Street closed broadly lower Wednesday as drops by big technology companies wiped out the S&P 500′s gains for the week.
The benchmark index fell 0.7 per cent, snapping a three-day winning streak. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5 per cent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq slid 1.3 per cent.
Traders focused on a mix of retail updates that indicate inflation pressure continues to affect businesses and consumers, but also shows that spending remains strong. A government report showed retail sales were flat last month, and Target shares slumped after the retail chain reported a nearly 90 per cent skid in quarterly profits.
Back home, nine of 15 sector gauges compiled by the National Stock Exchange were trading lower led by the Nifty Pharma index's 1.2 per cent decline. Nifty Healthcare, IT and select banking shares were also facing selling pressure.
On the other hand, Nifty FMCG, Realty and Consumer Durable shares witnessing buying interest.
Broader markets were largely trading on a flat note as Nifty Midcap 100 and Nifty Smallcap 100 indices declined 0.2 per cent each.
Dr Reddy's Labs was top Nifty loser, the stock fell 4 per cent to Rs 4,152. Sun Pharma, Wipro, Bharat Petroleum, Cipla, Infosys, TCS, UPL and HCL Technologies also fell between 0.7-2.5 per cent.
On the flipside, ITC, HDFC Life, SBI Life, JSW Steel, Hindalco, Hero MotoCorp, Hindustan Unilever, State Bank of India and Power Grid were among the gainers.