The prime index of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) failed to carry on the upward momentum it had set on Monday, by ending down 1.08 percent or 19.46 points on Tuesday, tracking weak global cues.

The benchmark 30-share sensitivity index closed at 15,587.62 with 24 components ending in the negative zone. The index dipped to an intra-day low of 15,479.42 from high of 15,770.40.

The Sensex, which vaulted 2.7 percent on Monday closing at 15,757.08, is now down more than 23 percent this year, making it one of the worst performers in Asia in 2008.

Engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro led the Sensex downslide, slipping 5.09 percent to Rs.2581.30 – its lowest close since September 2007. Traders said the stock fell on market concerns that its quarterly earnings will be below forecasts. The stock has fallen more than 38 percent so far this year, after nearly tripling in 2007.

IT majors Wipro, Infosys Technologies and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) lost 4.60 percent, 2.07 percent and 1.64 percent to end down at Rs.414, Rs.1461.30 and Rs.885.30 respectively.

Sensex heavyweight Reliance Industries (RIL) slipped 1.02 percent to Rs.2381.25, failing to maintain the 3.6 percent gain it clocked on Monday.

Jaiprakash Associates, Tata Steel, Ranbaxy Laboratories and Grasim Industries dropped 4.48 percent, 3.39 percent, 2.71 percent and 2.56 percent to Rs.221.55, Rs.656.30, Rs.470.75 and Rs.2560.40 respectively.

Energy majors NTPC and Reliance Energy slipped 2.12 percent and 1.07 percent to Rs.186.55 and Rs.1150.45 respectively while FMCG majors Hindustan Unilever (HUL) and ITC declined 2.02 percent and 0.95 percent to Rs.247.90 and Rs.208.30 respectively.

Auto majors Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors plunged 1.91 percent, 1.70 percent and 0.87 percent to Rs.744.20, Rs.602.70 and Rs.627.15 respectively.

Other major losers were Hindalco (down 1.53 percent to Rs.170.30), ACC (down 1.31 percent to Rs.825.35), Cipla (down 1.16 percent to Rs.212.45) and Reliance Communications (down 1.08 percent to Rs.500.55).

BHEL, Bharti Airtel, ICICI Bank, Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC), HDFC Bank and State Bank of India (SBI) were the only stocks to end in the green, rising 4.67 percent, 1.25 percent, 0.49 percent, 0.13 percent, 0.09 percent and 0.09 percent to Rs.1712.75, Rs.828.60, Rs.813.25, Rs.2309.50, Rs.1304.30 and Rs.1674.80 respectively.

Among the sectoral indices, only Bankex and Consumer Durables ended in the green, up 0.62 and 0.32 percent respectively.

The Metal, Consumer Goods, IT and TECk counters were worst hit, plunging 1.93 percent, 1.78 percent, 1.69 percent and 1.06 percent respectively. Other counters ended down in the range of 0.04-0.98 percent.

The BSE Midcap and Smallcap indices ended in the green, rising 0.60 percent and 0.47 percent to 6383.02 and 7814.17 respectively.

The market breadth was slightly positive as 1393 shares advanced, 1210 shares declined and 69 shares remained unchanged.

The broader 50-share S&P CNX Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) fell 1.08 percent or 51.55 points to 4,709.65. The index touched an intra-day high of 4769.55 and a low of 4677.80.

Worries about quarterly corporate earnings and weak global markets have dampened investors' sentiments, market analysts said.

We will see lot of volatility in line with the global markets. Also, there is no positive trigger that can ensure a sustained rally, said Dipak Acharya, fund manager at BoB Asset Management Company.

People are also worried about extraordinary losses that companies may show in their quarterly earnings due to losses in forex and commodities-linked trading, said Jayesh Shroff, fund manager at SBI Mutual Fund.

We are in a sideways to a downbound market, and at higher levels, the market is facing resistance. Sensex is finding it very difficult to cross 16000. We are at a level where valuations are attractive, which is why individual stocks are seeing buying activity. However, broadly, volumes need to pick up inorder to take the market higher, said Sandeep Wagle, chief technical analyst at Angel Broking.

Brokerage India Infoline said the market was likely to see alternate bouts of buying and selling, as investors would prefer to stay on the sidelines ahead of quarterly earnings reports.

Investors should be wary of bounce-backs, as these rallies could be short-lived, it said.

Elsewhere in South Asia, Pakistan's Karachi 100 ended flat at 15,474.07 points, while Sri Lanka's Colombo All-Share ended up 0.38 percent at 2,617.74.

The Asian indices were weak on Tuesday with most markets ending in the red. Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 1.49 percent at 13,250.43; Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 1.09 percent to 24,311.69; and Taiwan's Taiex declined 0.65 percent to 8672.85.

South Korea's Kospi dropped 1.06 percent to close at 1754.71; Singapore's Straits Times lost 1.62 percent to 3130.42; and Indonesia's Jakarta Composite fell 1.62 percent to 2249.77.

However, China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.36 percent to 3612.54 and Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur Composite gained 0.38 percent to 1225.71.

Buyout firm Blackstone's senior managing director John Studzinski warned, Tuesday that the financial markets turmoil worldwide will last till 2010.

This year is going to be fraught with data and denial, said Studzinski, at the Reuters Hedge Funds and Private Equity Summit in London. Next year a lot of industries are expecting difficulties, particularly more on the consumer side.