Extending its upward march for the fourth straight day, the BSE benchmark Sensex rose by 133 points today to its best closing level since January, 2008, amid steady foreign fund inflows and a firming global trend.
The Sensex, which had gained 445 points in the last three trading sessions, advanced further by 132.95 points to 18,799.66, its highest close in 31 months, with banking and financial stocks attracting the most investor interest.
The broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty rose by 32.20 points to 5,640.05 after touching an intra-day high of 5,647.45. Brokers said some profit-booking amid the overall bullish sentiment pared the gains, ahead of a three-day long week end due to tomorrow's Ramzan Id holiday.
The market sentiment was bullish on the back of a firming trend in Asia, buoyed by greater confidence in the US economy after the Federal Reserve revealed that the economy registered sustained growing from July to August.
In the 30-BSE index components, 18 stocks advanced, while 12 ended in the negative zone. Banking shares gained the most on expectations that the beginning of the festive season might see a surge in consumer spending and boost loan offtake.
The banking sector index added 2.19 per cent to 12,984.19. Among banking stocks, State Bank of India, the largest state-run lender, spurted by Rs 88.30 to Rs 2,982.50 and ICICI Bank, a leading private lender, rose by Rs 25.45 to Rs 1,050.75.
HDFC Bank gained Rs 58.20 to Rs 2,240.45. In the consumer durables sector, Hindustan Unilever rose by Rs 3.65 to Rs 277.85, Whirlpool by Rs 25.90 to Rs 319.45 and Videocon Industries by Rs 3.45 to Rs 266.65.
The consumer durables sectoral index gained 0.64 per cent to 5,912.61. With buying activity spilling over a wide front, the mid -cap sector index rose by 0.81 per cent to 8,061.32 and the small-cap index by 0.59 per cent to 10,276.16.