Mumbai: After closing in on 18,000-level, the Sensex on Thursday surrendered most of its 126-point gain to end the day flat as investors developed cold feet due to the political deadlock over CAG reports.
After a promising start tracking firm global cues, the BSE benchmark index climbed to 17,972.54, its highest intra-day peak in 23 weeks, on buying in IT, bank and FMCG stocks.
The Sensex, however, started losing momentum amid the standoff between Opposition and the government over CAG reports, including on coal block allocation, continuing into the third day. The index closed at 17,850.22, up 3.36 points over on Wednesday.
"...the Centre will find it hard to push through important bills given the Opposition onslaught in and outside Parliament. While BJP has gone on the offensive over the controversial CAG reports, TMC leader Mamata Banerjee has yet again stalled discussion on FDI in multi-brand retail and aviation," said Amar Ambani, Head of Research, IIFL.
Brokers said investors and funds booked profits in the second half of the session amid worries that pace of economic reforms could be stalled with the BJP-led NDA sticking to its demand for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation on the coal block allocation issue.
Among the 30-share Sensex, gains in Infosys, TCS, ITC and HUL were offset by losses in RIL, L&T, HDFC, ONGC and M&M.
Similarly, the NSE Nifty ended higher by a meagre 2.50 points to 5,415.35, after touching high of 5,448.60.
Fund flows into stocks were tepid after normal operations in public sector banks were on Thursday hampered for the second day because of the strike called by unions to protest against reforms in the sector and outsourcing of non-core services.
Traders said trigger for selling commenced after mid-session on European stocks trimming initial gains after manufacturing data from the Eurozone showed the region contracted for the seventh month in a row.

Asian stocks ended slightly better on Thursday on speculation that central banks in the US and China will ease monetary policy to support the world's biggest economies. Key indices in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan closed up between 0.11 percent and 1.23 percent.
European markets, however, trimmed their morning gains in afternoon deals after manufacturing data from the Eurozone showed the region contracted for the seventh month in a row.
The France's CAC was up by 0.17 percent, the Germany's DAX by 0.21 percent and the UK's FTSE by 0.45 percent.
Talking about domestic markets, Kishor P Ostwal, CMD, CNI Research Ltd. said: "Market was volatile due to settlement consideration. Tomorrow Nifty may correct further till 5380 and 5330 as there was huge call selling of 5400 series and put buying of the same series".
Out of the 30-share Sensex pack, 15 stocks closed lower while 14 stocks ended higher. Bharti Airtel was unchanged.
Major gainers on Thursday were Wipro (2.61 pc), TCS (2.25 pc), Infosys (1.73 pc), Tata Steel (1.53 pc), HUL (1.45 pc), Coal India (0.97 pc) and ITC (0.88 pc).
However, Reliance Industries declined by 1.68 percent, followed by L&T (1.63 pc), ONGC (1.59 pc), M&M (1.55 pc), Bajaj Auto (1.11 pc), Tata Motors (1.09 pc) and HDFC (0.95 pc).
Among the sectoral indices, the BSE-IT firmed up by 1.80 percent, followed by the BSE-Teck (1.36 pc) and the BSE-FMCG (0.88 pc) while the BSE-Oil&Gas fell by 1.05 percent, the BSE-Auto by 0.83 percent and the BSE-CG by 0.76 percent.
The market breadth continued to rule weak as 1,458 shares finished with losses while 1,357 shares ended with gains.     

Total turnover was relatively low at Rs 1,950.72 crore from Rs 2,041.72 crore on Wednesday.
Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) pumped in Rs 123.90 crore on Wednesday in equities as per SEBI data.


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