Mumbai: The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex fell below the psychological 16,000-mark in early trade on Monday, losing 272.09 points amid a major sell off across  the board and a weak trend in Asian markets.

The 30-share barometer dipped below the crucial 16,000 points level, losing 272.09, or 1.72 percent, to 15,889.97.

The overall mood in the broader market was negative, with as many as 1,687 stocks trading in the red and only 860 scrips trading in positive territory at 1055 hours.

This is the second time the index has fallen below this level since August 26. The latest decline was caused by sustained selling across the board amid weakening of the rupee, which depreciated by nearly 5 percent last week, and approaching expiry in the derivative segments this Thursday, marketmen said.

Consumer durables, metal, oil and gas and banking stocks suffered the most and fell nearly 5 percent.

The broad-based National Stock Exchange Nifty Index also ebbed below the technical support level of 4,800 to an early low of 4,782.60 points, led by a steep fall in all sectors.

Among the major losers, Sterlite Industries dropped by 5.01 percent, Coal India by 4.77 percent, Reliance Industries by 2.30 percent and Tata Steel by 2 percent.

The 30-share Sensex had previously fallen below this crucial mark on August 19, when the benchmark index fell below the 16,000 points level for the first time in nearly 15 months before recovering a little to close at 16,141.67.

The Sensex had scaled an all-time high of 21,206.77 points on January 10, 2008.

(Agencies)