Mumbai: Markets went into reverse gear after the benchmark Sensex lost ground completely and veered into the negative zone after it fell 98 points, dragged down by selling in capital goods, consumer durable and metal.
The underlying mood was that of caution after data showed the country's exports shrank 13.6 per cent in January - for the 14th month in a row.
The 30-share index opened higher at 23,688.61, before trading at 23,455.67 at 1200 hours, down 98.45 points, or 0.42 per cent over its previous close.
The NSE Nifty went down 37.75 points, or 0.53 per cent, to 7,125.20 at 1200 hours.
Among big losers, Asian Paints 1.67 per cent led the chart followed by L&T 1.63 per cent, Sun Pharma 1.41 per cent, SBI 1.14 per cent and M&M 1.11 per cent.
Those that gained included Adani ports 5.62 per cent, NTPC 4.00 per cent, ONGC 1.65 per cent and Dr Reddy's 1.57 per cent.
The selling momentum continued for foreign portfolio investors as they net sold shares worth Rs 1,311.59 crore on Monday.
Overseas, Asian markets ruled firm led by China as stabilising Chinese markets and a rebound in oil prices drove investors to look for bargains after the last week's rout. The US remained closed for the President's Day holiday on Monday.