MUMBAI The BSE Sensex posted its biggest daily fall this month on Wednesday, as interest rate-sensitive stocks such as ICICI Bank continued to retreat a day before key inflation data that could help determine whether the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would ease monetary policy.
Declines in global markets also weighed on shares, which have fallen each day this week, retreating from the one-month high hit on Friday as a rally has run out of steam.
India's wholesale prices in February likely rose 6.54 percent, their slowest annual pace in more than three years, a Reuters poll showed, strengthening the chances of a rate cut.
The data came ahead of the RBI's policy review on March 19. Although investors are hoping for a rate cut, data this week showing stronger-than-expected industrial output and accelerating consumer inflation has clouded the picture.
"WPI inflation would be a key factor ahead of RBI meeting on March 19 to decide the near term trend," said Aneesh Srivastava, CIO, IDBI Life Insurance, who oversees 30 billion rupees worth of assets in capital markets.
"Until inflation falls significantly RBI can duck the rate cuts for March citing current account and CPI pressures," added Srivastava.
The benchmark BSE Sensex fell 1.03 percent, or 202.37 points, to end at 19,362.55, marking its biggest single day fall since February 28, and erasing part of a four-day rally seen last week.
The broader Nifty fell 1.06 percent, or 62.90 points, to end at 5,851.20, closing below the psychologically important 5,900 level.
ICICI Bank (ICBK.NS) fell 3.3 percent while mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corp (HDFC.NS) ended 1.8 percent lower, as doubts grew about whether the RBI will cut interest rates.
Among other decliners, Tata Motors Ltd (TAMO.NS) fell 1.2 percent after the automaker said global sales in February fell 22.4 percent, the fourth consecutive monthly slide.
Among other auto stocks, Bajaj Auto Ltd (BAJA.NS) fell 3.1 percent, while Hero MotoCorp Ltd (HROM.NS) ended 0.3 percent lower on persisting concerns about slowing sales.
Dish TV Ltd (DSTV.NS) fell 0.9 percent after Reuters reported that U.S. private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC (APO.N) is in talks to sell its 11 percent stake in the company, citing two sources with direct knowledge of the development.
However, among stocks that gained, Jet Airways India Ltd (JET.NS) rose 1 percent, marking a fourth day of gains, on unconfirmed market talk of a potential sale of parking slots in Brussels to Etihad Airways, dealers said.
(Additional reporting by Manoj Dharra; Editing by Jijo Jacob)