Mumbai: The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) benchmark Sensex fell by over 126 points in opening trade on Thursday as funds and retail investors sold heavily amid fears of a hike in key interest rates by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) at its monetary policy review meeting later in the day.

The 30-share Bombay Stock Exchange barometer, which lost 176.42 points in the previous session, fell further by 126.42 points, or 0.69 percent, to 18,005.82 points within the first few minutes of trade on Thursday, with interest-sensitive banking, realty and auto stocks coming under selling pressure.

Similarly, the wide-based National Stock Exchange Nifty index declined by 41.10 points, or 0.75 percent, to 5,406.40.

Brokers attributed the continued weakening trend on the bourses to persistent selling by funds and retail investors on fears that the RBI might announce a hike in key interest rates in its annual monetary policy review later on Thursday to check rising inflation.

In addition, weak cues from Asian markets following overnight losses in the US also had a dampening impact on the sentiment here, they said.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down by 1.32 percent, while Japan's shed 0.84 percent in morning trade on Thursday.

In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 1.48 percent lower in Wednesday's trade.

(Agencies)