The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex on Thursday surged by 136 points to close over the 18,000 points level for the first time in nearly 30 months.
The Sensex, which had been struggling to cross the 18,000 points level for the past few sessions, spurted by 135.92 points to close at 18,113.15, a level last seen on February 15, 2008. On Wednesday, it had gained 99.09 points.
Marketmen said aggressive buying in fundamentally strong stocks helped the index cross the 18,000-mark as concerns over inflation eased and companies posted strong numbers for the first quarter.
Fears of a hike in interest rates to curb inflation faded after food inflation declined to 12.47 per cent for the week ended July 10 from 12.81 per cent in the previous week.
Mixed Asian cues and a higher opening in Europe further fuelled the uptrend, lifting the benchmark to an intra-day high of 18,127.90.
In the 30-BSE index components, 25 stocks ended with gains and five remained in the negative zone. Consumer durables, metals, auto and fast moving consumer durables sector shares were in demand and recorded handsome gains.
The broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty crossed the crucial 5,400 level and ended with a gain of 42.60 points at 5,441.95, after touching a high of 5,447.15.
Brokers said expectations of a good monsoon boosted the trading sentiment in consumer durable sector stocks, with investors anticipating increased buying power in rural areas.
The consumer durable sector index gained the most during the session by adding 1.41 per cent to 5,246.31. Titan Industries, a major producer of wrist watches and gold jewellery, rose by Rs 74.60 to Rs 2,741.05 and Bajaj Electric by Rs 8.90 to Rs 251.60.
The metal sector was the next best performer, with the sectoral index rising by 1.28 per cent to 15,627.43. JSW Steel shot up 2.26 per cent to Rs 1,201.25 after the third-largest steel producer in the country said it will consider raising funds, including selling shares to a strategic investor.
The auto sector was the third best performer, with the sectoral index adding 1.24 per cent to 8,430.92 as leading auto majors Bajaj Auto and TVS Motors reported attractive financial quarterly results.
Bajaj Auto spurted by Rs 76.10 to Rs 2,490.20, Mahindra and Mahindra by Rs 15.40 to Rs 6,32.30 and Tata Motors by Rs 14.65 to Rs 835.60.
With buying activity spread over a wide-front, the mid-cap index rose by 0.41 per cent to 7,456.62, while the small-cap index gained 0.27 per cent to 9,491.04.