Mumbai (Agencies):  Stock markets dipped to 7-month lows on Tuesday with the Bombay Stock Exchange index Sensex, which had edged up a bit in the previous session, closing below 18,000 declining 261 points.

It touched the day' low of 17,742.18, as investors sold heavily on concerns over rising inflation and interest rates.

The BSE benchmark Sensex dropped by 261.49 points or 1.45 per cent to 17,775.70, a level last seen on July 8, as funds sold stocks amid concerns that rising inflation will trigger further hike in interest rates and trim corporate earnings.

Selling was seen across the board with all sectoral indices settling down between 3.81 per cent and 0.10 per cent. Consumer durables, realty, auto and banking segments set the
pace for decline.

The Bombay Stock Exchange 30-share index opened firm at 18,141.51 but could not maintain the level and turned negative on all-round sell-off.

It settled at 7-month low of 17,775.70, a sharp dip of 261.49 points or 1.45 per cent from the previous close.

Similarly, the 50-issue Nifty of the National Stock Exchange plunged by 83.45 points or 1.55 per cent to end at 7-month low of 5,312.55.

Sensex and Nifty had closed at 17,651.73 and 5,296.85 respectively on July 8, 2010.

Marketmen said that investors feared dip in corporate earnings in the coming quarters on rising inflation, further hike in interest rates and trade imbalances.

Unrest in Egypt, which is likely to have negative impact on domestic oil prices, also worried investors.

Lack of any major triggers from Asian and European markets to has a sentimental impact on the local bourses.

Except China, which was close on Tuesday, most of the other Asian stocks ended narrowly mixed despite rally on Wall Street on Monday. Key indices from Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan ended in the red, while Japan and South Korea closed in the green.

European markets too were trading mixed in afternoon deals.

25 out of 30 Sensex-based counters ended with sharp to moderate losses, while others finished with gains.

Major contributer to Sensex fall were ICICI Bank (2.98 per cent), ONGC (5.58 pc), RIL (1.48 pc), L&T (2.34 pc), M&M (5.97 pc), Tata Motor (2.86 pc) and Tata Steel (3.16 pc).

Other losers from the 30 index-based stocks were Jaipra Asso (5.21 pc), REL Com (4.20 pc), Hero Honda (4.06 pc), REL Infra (3.30 pc), NTPC (2.59 pc), Sterlite Ind (2.51 pc), Jindal Steel (1.77 pc) and HDFC Bank (1.72 pc).

Among sectoral indices, BSE-CD plunged 3.81 per cent, BSE-Realty by 3.08 pc, the BSE-Auto by 2.70 pc, the Bankex by 2.28 pc and the BSE-Oil&Gas by 2.06 pc.

Second-line shares too bore the brunt of heavy selling by retail investors with BSE-Smallcap index tumbling by 3.23 per cent and the BSE-Midcap by 2.42 per cent.

The total market breadth was sharply negative as 2,299 stocks settled in losses, against only 551 that closed with gains on the BSE. The total turnover remained low at Rs 2,824.15 crore.