Mumbai:  A day after the government announced strategic sale in five public sector units and approved the proposal for mitigating financial stress being faced by telecom operators, equity benchmark indices ended marginally lower after a muted trading session on Thursday.

At the closing bell, the BSE S&P Sensex was down by 76 points at 40,575 while the Nifty 50 ended 31 points lower at 11,968. Most sectoral indices were in the red except for Nifty media which gained by 4.08%, financial service and realty which were up marginally.

However, Zee Entertainment gained by 11.73% at Rs 343 per share after the parent Essel Group announced plans to sell 16.5% stake in the subsidiary company to financial investors. The group has to repay loan obligations to certain lenders.

Eicher Motors, Dr Reddy's, Adani Ports and Hindustan Lever closed the day with marginal gains.

But Bharat Petroleum Corporation dropped by 5.97% after the government approved sale of its entire 53.29% stake along with the transfer of management control.

Even telecom stocks traded lower despite the Union Cabinet approving the proposal to mitigate financial stress being faced by the sector. Vodafone Idea closed over 6% down and Bharti Airtel slipped by 2.4% as the government's move failed to cheer investors.

Reliance Capital was locked in lower circuit after plunging 5% after Delhi high court placed restrictions on any sale, disposal or creation of any encumbrance on the company's assets of the company till December 16. The other prominent losers were Tata Steel, Yes Bank, ONGC, GAIL, ITC and Maruti Suzuki.

Meanwhile, Asian shares dropped as a fresh row between Washington and Beijing over US bills on Hong Kong could complicate their trade negotiation.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.57% while Japan's Nikkei dropped by 0.48%. Chinese mainland shares dropped by 0.25% and South Korea's Kospi by 1.35%.