The BSE benchmark Sensex on Wednesday fell over 176 points to 18,132.24 as rate-sensitive banking and realty stocks tumbled ahead of the RBI policy meet on Thursday on fears of another hike in interest rates amid high inflation and a weak global trend.
The Bombay Stock Exchange index, Sensex, which had gained 43 points on Tuesday, dropped as investors dumped interest sensitive stocks on fears that inflation in May that breached the 9 per cent mark, may force the central bank to hike rates in its mid quarterly review.
A warning by Goldman Sachs Group that inflation would remain a "key headwind" for the country's economy dampened the sentiment, already infected by a weak trend in the Asian region and lower opening in Europe.
Broad-based National Stock Exchange index fell by 53 points to 5,447.50, after dipping to 5,438.95 during the session.
On the BSE's 30-share index, Reliance Ind and Infosys - the two most influential stocks that weigh about 21 per cent on the Sensex - suffered losses. The RIL lost Rs 12.80 to Rs 900.75 and Infosys by Rs 39.55 to Rs 2,833.90 a share.
Among the sectoral indices, the banking index took the maximum brunt, losing 1.58 per cent to 12,143.23 as the country's largest lender State Bank of India declined by Rs 51.95 to Rs 2,182, followed by ICCI bank that dipped by Rs 22.15 to Rs 1,033.05 a piece.
Realty sector index lost 1.34 per cent to 2,122.88 as Jaiprakash Associates, a builder of dams, roads and bridges, lost Rs 1.70 to Rs 82.50 on speculations that higher borrowing costs will hurt constructors and developers.
Among auto majors, Maruti Suzuki fell Rs 12.30 to Rs 1,210.50 after a strike at one of its factories entered its twelfth day.