Mumbai: The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex on Friday closed below the 16,000 level for the first time in 18 months as it lost over 297 points on weak global trend ahead of US Fed statement amid worldwide economic slowdown.

The Sensex, which had lost 352 points in the last two trading sessions, fell further by 297.50 points to 15,848.83, a level last seen on February 10 last year, as foreign funds remaining major sellers this week.

The index declined nearly 0.8 per cent this week, its fifth straight weekly fall and a longest losing streak since October 2008 after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings froze credit markets.

The gauge touched the day's low of 15,765.53 on all-round selling as foreign investors turned cautious ahead of a speech by the US Fed amid worsening economic data from the world's largest economy.

The broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty also dipped below 4,800 point level to close 91.80 points lower at 4,747.80 following weak trend in the Asian region and lower opening in Europe.

Reliance Industries, the most heavily on the Sensex dropped by 4.61 per cent to Rs 719.50 and realty major DLF Ltd. by 5.76 per cent to Rs 175.85. The two carry nearly 14 per cent weightage on the benchmark.

Tata Power plunged to its lowest price in 27 months by losing 3.20 per cent to Rs 1,012.45 after its rating was cut at Morgan Stanley, brokers said.

The pull down was led by stocks of realty, metal, oil and gas, banks and consumer durable sectors.