Mumbai, Feb 22: The benchmark BSE Sensex fell over 144 points in early trade as investors turned cautious ahead of February derivatives expiry amid sustained foreign fund outflows and mixed Asian cues.
The 30-share index, which had gained 141.27 points in the previous session, slipped 144.23 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 33,700.63.
Sectoral indices, led by oil & gas, metal, auto, PSU and banks, slipped into the negative terrain to fall up to 0.99 per cent.
The NSE Nifty50 too fell by 56.80 points, or 0.54 per cent, to 10,340.65.
Squaring-up of positions by participants on the last trading session of February F&O series contracts today and a weak trend in other Asian markets, after the US Federal Reserve minutes indicated a hike in interest rates, influenced sentiment here.
Major losers were ONGC, Asian Paints, Dr Reddy's,
Tata Motors, Axis Bank, Maruti Suzuki, Hindustan Unilever, ITC, Coal India and M&M falling by up to 1.82 per cent.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.09 per cent while Japan's Nikkei lost 1.18 per cent in early deals.
The US Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.67 per cent lower yesterday.