Indian shares scooped up gains for the fourth straight session as the benchmark BSE Sensex rose by almost 80 points on Monday to end at over a two-week high of 23,789 on widespread gains, led by oil and gas stocks after crude oil rebounded.
Oil prices took back some of the lost ground in Asia after a steep fall in the previous session, with US crude back above USD 30 a barrel, as traders analysed the impact of a potential freeze by key producers.
Global benchmark, Brent, for April advanced 43 cents, or 1.30%, to USD 33.44 a barrel.
Equities took further last week’s sharp rally, notching up gains in most sectors. The Sensex on Friday had logged the best weekly gain since October last year by surging 3.14%.
Trading stayed in the positive zone for the better part of the day. The Sensex ended higher by 79.64 points, 0.34%, at over a two-week high of 23,788.79.
Investors were more sure-footed after a Shanghai-led rally on Asian bourses following reports that China has replaced the head of its securities regulator.
The 30-share Sensex had gained over 517.18 points in the past three sessions.
At the close, the NSE Nifty was up 23.80 points, or 0.33%, at 7,234.55.
A total of 17 components rose out of the 30 in the Sensex pack.
Hindustan Unilever led from the front as it surged 4.02% while RIL closed 1.90% higher on gains in global crude oil.
Other major gainers were Sun Pharma, Asian Paints, Lupin, Cipla, ONGC, Dr Reddy’s, Bajaj Auto, Axis Bank, Bharti Airtel, Tata Steel, M and M, Coal India, Tata Motors, HDFC Bank, TCS and SBI, rising up by up to 2.16%.
Maruti, the country’s biggest carmaker, dropped 1.61% to Rs 3,523.30 after it suspended operations at its two plants in Gurgaon and Manesar as component supplies have been hit by the agitation of Jats demanding job reservation.
Others that lost were NTPC, ITC, Adani Ports, GAIL, Wipro, BHEL, Hero MotoCorp, Infosys and TCS.
Sectorally, the BSE healthcare index gained the most by rising 1.10% followed by oil and gas at 0.97%, realty 0.71%, metal 0.56% and banking 0.49%.
Broader markets too kept their head above water, with the mid-cap index rising 0.75% and small-cap gaining 0.46%.
Meanwhile, foreign investors net sold shares worth Rs 191.73 crore on Friday, showed provisional data.
Overseas, most Asian markets closed higher and European indices were in a better shape in early deals.
Rupee ends at new 30-month low
The rupee, however, dropped by 15 paise to end at a fresh 30-month low of 68.61 per dollar on renewed demand for the American currency from banks and importers on the back of higher greenback overseas amidst sustained foreign capital outflows.
Even the persistent rise in equity market failed to restrict the rupee’s fall, a forex dealer said.
The domestic unit resumed lower at 68.60 as against last Thursday’s closing level of 68.46 at the Inter-bank Foreign Exchange (Forex) market and dropped to 68.70 per dollar before concluding at fresh 30-month low at 68.61, a loss of 15 paise or 0.22%.
It hovered in a range of 68.70 and 68.50 during the day.
The rupee had hit its all-time closing low of 68.80 per dollar on August 28, 2013 after plunging to 68.85 mark on the same day in the intra-day trade.
The dollar index was up by 0.53% against a basket of six currencies in the late afternoon trade.