Snapping three days of gains, the Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex on Monday shed over 152 points to close below the psychological 21,000-mark, amid profit booking and weak banking and technology counters.
The 30-share sensitive index opened the day on a robust note, but lost ground within an hour of trading to settle the day 152.58 points lower, or 0.73 per cent, at 20,852.38.
The Sensex is just 354 points short of its highest level of 21,206.77, reached on January 10, 2008.
Similarly, the wide-based 50-share Nifty Index of the National Stock Exchange, too, lost 39.25 points to finish the day at 6,273.20.
Marketmen attributed the weakness in the Dalal Street to heavy selling by investors at handsome levels to book profits.
"The slump in the market is mainly on account of correction being witnessed by the blue-chip companies, coupled with heavy profit booking across the board," Geojit BNP Paribas Research Head Alex Matthews said.
Significant fall in IT bellwether Infosys Technologies, which carries the maximum weight in Sensex after Reliance Industries, was the major contributor in the overall loss. Infosys shed 1.82 per cent to close at Rs 3,023.65, while the private sector lender HDFC Bank fell by 2.24 per cent, becoming the top loser among the 30 Sensex blue-chips.
ICICI Bank also declined 1.11 per cent and mortgage lender HDFC too fell 1.11 per cent.
"Fears of interest rate hike in the US due to strength in the dollar (against rupee), coupled with profit-booking dragged the IT and banking stocks down," Religare Securities Executive vice president Rajesh Jain said.
Meanwhile, Coal India which made a spectacular debut last week, also erased gains at Rs 330.45, down 5.49 per cent, from the previous close.
"Investors have earned fair returns on the first day of the coal major's listing and now they are booking profits, primarily to park their money in another state run firm Power Grid whose follow-on offer will open for subscription from tomorrow," Mathews added.
Among the Sensex-30 companies, 21 finished the day in a negative terrain, while rest of them ended on a positive note with Jaiprakash Associates gaining the most at Rs 138.20, up 3.25 per cent on BSE.