Mumbai: The BSE Sensex on Monday closed below the 19,000 mark, down 138 points, declining for the sixth straight session as investors remained cautious ahead of RBI meeting on Tuesday, expecting a hike in key rates.

Interest-sensitive banking stocks fell the most. Global stock markets also exhibited a weak trend.

The 30-share Bombay Stock Exchange index, Sensex, which had lost 466 points in the last five trading sessions, fell further by 137.94 points to close at 18,998.02.

It has closed below the 19k mark in over a month.

Similarly, the broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty lost 48.20 points to 5,701.30 as banking, consumer durables and refinery sector stocks suffered major losses.

Brokers said market participants turned cautious on fears that the Reserve Bank might adopt a hawkish stance at its annual monetary policy meeting, in view of high inflation amid soaring crude oil prices.

They said state-owned banks, led by SBI, declined after Morgan Stanley downgraded them on fears that any further hike in borrowing rates would reduce their interest margins.

However, a rise in the second most-heaviest stock Infosys Technologies on reshuffling its top management, amid growth concerns, saved the market from any major fall, they added.

The decline was also partly capped following reports that the six core sector industries grew by 7.4 per cent in March and by 5.9 per cent during 2010-11.

The banking sector index suffered the most by losing 2.08 per cent to 12,804.48, followed by consumer durables, shedding 1.76 per cent at 6,280.29 points.

The BSE Oil and gas index too ended 1.34 per cent lower at 9,873.71, while metals index declined by 1.04 per cent to 16,021.55.

(Agencies)