Falling for the second straight day, the S&P BSE benchmark Sensex on Thursday slid 286 points to end below the crucial 20,000 level on heavy losses in ITC, RIL, HUL and ICICI Bank shares, amid investors adopting a cautious stance on monthly derivatives expiry.
Weak global cues and concerns related to recent RBI liquidity tightening moves also weighed on sentiments as the 30-share index closed at its lowest levels in two weeks.
The Sensex, which had lost 211.45 points in the previous session, fell further by 285.92 points, or 1.42 per cent to 19,804.76, a level last seen on July 16.
On similar lines, the wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty tumbled by 83 points, or 1.39 per cent to 5,907.50. It had lost 87.30 points on Thursday. SX40 index, the flagship index of MCX-SX, also closed 159.66 points, or 1.33 per cent, lower at 11,829.16.
Sanjeev Zarbade, Vice President- Private Client Group Research, Kotak Securities said: "Market continued its downward slide today partially fuelled by negative global cues as the Dow and S&P 500 had finished in negative territory on Wednesday. It was also expiry day for Indian derivatives."
Selling pressure was more confined to FMCG sector led by Sensex heavyweight ITC whose shares tanked 4.57 per cent even as the firm posted over 18 per cent growth in Q1 profit. Its peer, HUL slid 3.2 per cent on heavy selling as well.
Another index heavyweight RIL fell nearly 2 per cent.
Financial majors like ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank ended lower.
Meanwhile, shares of Ambuja Cements plummeted by 10.52 per cent and ACC by 3 per cent after Swiss cement-maker Holcim announced a move to rejig shareholding in the firms.
Sectorally, the BSE FMCG sector index suffered the most by losing 3.33 per cent to 7,270.50, followed by metal sector by 1.73 per cent to 7,233.24. Health sector index fell by 1.64 per cent to 9,164.15 and oil and gas index by 1.35 per cent to 8,894.94.