Mumbai, Jan 13 (Agencies):  Mumbai, Jan 13 (Agencies): Stock markets fell flat on Thursday, with Sensex plunging 351 points to 19,182 on
below-expectation quarterly results posted by software major Infosys and heavy selling in banking scrips on fears of interest rate hike.

Erasing yesterday's gain of 338 points, the Bombay Stock Exchange sensitive index, Sensex, settled 351.28 points or 1.8 per cent down at 19,182.82 points -- its lowest close since November 26, 2010. The index dropped 400 points in the intra-day trade and could not recover much.

Before yesterday's gain, the Sensex had been on downward spiral for six consecutive trading sessions.
The National Stock Exchange's wide-based Nifty nosedived  by 111.35 points or 1.90 per cent to settle at 5751.90 points.

Market observers attributed the fall in the broadermarket to the not-so-good Infosys numbers and massive sell-off in the banking space as edgy investors feared another rate hike in a bid to tame rising inflation.

 "Infosys results are disappointing as volume growth of 3.1 per cent QoQ is the lowest in the last five quarters. As it managed to get pricing increases, it seems like it is focusing yet again on profitability against growth," Edelweiss
CapitalInstitutional Equities Research VP Ganesh Duvvuri said.

"Based on this quarter's earning and Q4 guidance, we see no scope for any further upgrade," he added.
IT bellwether Infosys Technologies posted 14.17 per cent jump in consolidated net profit at Rs 1,780 crore for the third quarter ended December 31, 2010, which, according to market players, was lower-than-expected level.

A slump of 4.82 per cent in Infosys shares sent the market in a tizzy. The heavyweight stock had lost 5.15 percent in the intra-day session to finally close at Rs 3,212.30 on the BSE. The country's second largest software company was a major reason behind the fall of the Sensex.

 Besides, rate sensitive banking stocks also plagued the movement of the key index with top lenders, including SBI, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank falling 3.91 per cent, 3.88 per cent
and 2.90 per cent, respectively, amid fears of a probable policy rate hike by RBI this month to tame inflation.

 Among the sectoral indices, the banking index was the biggest laggard, shedding 445.91 points or 3.53 per cent to end at 12,170.03.

"Just when we thought that short covering in the F&O space could lift the markets further, today we saw fresh shorts in the banking sector. The IT stocks remained underpressure following Infosys' disappointing results and guidance, today’s fall was seen despite upbeat global cues," IIFL Head of Research Amar Ambani said.