After trading in a range-bound manner for most of the day, the Sensex on Wednesday closed almost 80 points higher on the back of fag-end buying by funds as well as retail investors in metal, capital goods and auto shares amid a strong opening in European markets.
The BSE benchmark index, which had gained a mere 2 points in yesterday's trade, moved up further by 79.71 points to close at 17,185.01. The 30-share Sensex traded in a 167-point range on alternate bouts of buying and selling.
Smart rise in Bajaj Auto, Tata Power, Jindal Steel, Maruti, L&T, ICICI Bank, Bhel, Coal India, Tata Steel, Hero MotoCorp and TCS mainly supported the rise in the index while fall in Tata Motors, RIL, Dr. Reddy's Lab and State Bank of India capped the rise.
Similarly, the 50-share NSE Nifty index snapped a five-day losing streak by rising 23.45 points to 5,216.30.
Besides a higher opening on the European markets on June unemployment rate in the UK unexpectedly ticking down, hopes that Indian government will accelerate economic reforms after the Presidential elections also helped the mood, brokers said.
However, deficient rains in the country so far have forced market participants to adopt a cautious approach, they added.
After easing of wholesale inflation, data today showed retail inflation barely declined to 10.02% in June.
"...movements clearly indicate indecision in the market due to upcoming events like the Presidential poll tomorrow, RBI policy on July 31 as well as corporate earnings," said Nidhi Saraswat, Senior Research Analyst, Bonanza Portfolio.
Dealers said buying was seen in small-cap and mid-cap stocks on signs of improvement in confidence. Total market breadth turned slightly positive as 1,404 counters concluded with gains while 1,374 scrips ended with losses.
Meanwhile, rupee was trading at 55.4 levels to a dollar after resuming at 55 levels today.
Asian markets in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea were down after China's Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday warned of a severe job outlook for the economy.
Key benchmark indices only in China and Singapore closed with gains while from Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan finished lower between 0.32% and 1.48%.
European markets, however, were trading better in their afternoon deals after the unexpected drop in UK unemployment. France's CAC was up by 0.68%, Germany's DAX was up 0.12% while the UK's FTSE was marginally higher.
"Globally, things remain quite fragile amid no sign of a permanent fix for the Eurozone debt crisis and mounting worries over the economic slowdown in the US and China," said Amar Ambani, Head of Research, IIFL.
While back home, retail inflation based on Consumer Price Index (CPI) declined in June, experts feel it is still at elevated levels. "...it reflects inflation faced by households, ...suggests it is too early to lower the guard on inflation," said Sonal Varma, India Economist, Nomura.
Among Sensex gainers, Bajaj Auto logged the best performance with a rise of 5.20% on good earnings.
It was followed by Tata Power (2.71%), Jindal Steel (2.67%), Sterlite Ind (2.43%), Maruti Suzuki (2.31%), L&T (1.69%), ICICI Bank (1.58%), BHEL (1.50%), Coal India (1.41%), Tata Steel (1.22%) and Hero Moto (0.84%).
However, Tata Motors declined by 1.93%, Dr Reddy's Lab dropped by 1.85%, NTPC lost 0.79%. SBI and RIL lost in the 0.5-0.6% range.
Among the sectoral indices, the BSE-Metal (1.48%), BSE-CG (1.07%) and BSE-Realty (0.93%) led gains.
The total turnover shot up to Rs 2,293.27 crore from Rs 1,750.02 crore on Tuesday.
FIIs bought shares worth Rs 474.95 crore yesterday as per provisional data on stock exchanges. They are net buyers throughout the month so far, injecting over Rs 8,000 till July 16.