The benchmark Sensex erased early gains and fell 36 points in the fourth day of losses as Bharti Airtel and ICICI Bank earnings missed estimates and investors waited for a decision from the US Federal Reserve on tapering .
Overnight data on FII selling and fag-end profit booking before monthly derivative contracts expire tomorrow, also weighed on stocks, traders said.
Shares from metal, banking, consumer durables and realty pack were among the laggards while capital goods and pharma stocks attracted good buying support, they added.
The Sensex resumed on a positive note and firmed up to a high of 20,828.68 on strong buying aided by Asian trends.
However, the gains were later frittered away and the 30-share index ended at 20,647.30, a loss of 36.21 or 0.18 per cent. In four days, the Sensex has shed over 726 points.
Jignesh Chaudhary, Head of Research, Veracity Broking Services said, "Both ICICI Bank and Bharti Airtel posted positive numbers in Q3 earnings, which were below markets' projections. During the later part of the day, profit booing picked up which created some pressure."
Tata Steel, Sesa Sterlite, Hindalco and RIL also fell.
However, Maruti shares with a 7 per cent spurt led the 14 Sensex gainers that included Sun Pharma, Bhel and Hero Moto.
The NSE Nifty eased by 6.00 points to end at 6,120.25.
Foreign Institutional Investors (FII) sold shares worth Rs 1,267.35 crore on Tuesday as per the provisional data.
Globally, markets were stable ahead of Fed meet outcome.
"The US Fed meeting result will be available tonight. The street is factoring in (another) USD 10 billion tapering," said Milan Bavishi, Head Research, Inventure Growth and Securities. The US central bank has already trimmed it by $10 billion to $75 billion per month.
Asian markets ended higher after Turkey's central bank doubled interest rates to arrest a currency slide that roiled global markets. Key benchmark indices in Hong Kong, China, Japan and South Korea rose, while the one from Singapore fell.
Europe was also trading higher as indices in France, Germany and the UK moved up in 0.67-0.82 per cent range.
Among the BSE Sensex constituents, 16 scrips of the 30-share pack ended down while the remaining 14 finished up.
Major losers were Sesa Sterlite (3.05 per cent), Tata Steel (2.21 per cent), Hindalco (1.8 per cent), ICICI Bank (1.69 per cent), Bajaj Auto (1.62 per cent), Bharti Airtel (1.52 per cent), SBI (1.4 per cent), M&M (1.34 per cent), Tata Motors (1.24 per cent) and Reliance Industries (1.07 per cent).
On the winners side, Maruti Suzuki rose by 7.11 per cent, BHEL (3.86 per cent), Hero MotoCorp (2.85 per cent), Axis Bank (1.58 per cent), Sun Pharma (1.34 per cent), Cipla (1.29 per cent) and Infosys (1.11 per cent).
Among the S&P BSE sectoral indices, Metal index fell by 1.35 per cent, followed by Consumer Durables (0.76 per cent), Bankex (0.69 per cent) and Realty (0.58 per cent).
The gainers were led by Capital Goods that firmed up 0.92 per cent, Healthcare (0.76 per cent), IT (0.56 per cent) and Teck (0.44 per cent).
The market breadth turned negative as 1,391 stocks ended in the red, 1,212 finished in the green while 143 ended flat.
The total turnover dropped to Rs 1,778.65 crore from Rs 2,450.58 crore on Tuesday.