Rising for fifth straight day, the BSE benchmark Sensex today closed 54 points higher at 18,817.38 helped by jump in Cipla shares after robust earnings and good gains in banking stocks, including HDFC Bank and SBI, ahead of the festive season.
Brokers said there was stock-specific action on better earnings by companies and foreign funds bought shares after a steep fall in rupee yesterday. The rupee, however, was last trading at 54.43, up 17 paise from 54.61 a dollar on Monday.
Trading began on a cautious note at 18,739.97 and the stock market remained lacklustre for most of the session as Sensex traded in a narrow range of 18,829.07 and 18,726.94.
The Sensex, which had gained 332 points in last four trading sessions, finally closed 54.51 points, or 0.29 per cent, higher at 18,817.38. Cipla led the 17 gainers in 30-share index, followed by Jindal Steel.
"Cipla was up by about 4 per cent following its robust Q2 numbers. Banking and power were the other major gainers. Auto sector was down today," said Nidhi Sarswat, Senior Research Analyst, Bonanza Portfolio.
Banking and financial shares -- HDFC, SBI and HDFC Bank --gained in the 0.5-1 per cent range on hopes of robust loan demand during festive season. RIL and Infosys also ended up.
Overall, the stock markets saw rise in realty and banking sectors while auto and capital goods saw some selling.
The 50-share NSE benchmark Nifty closed 20.20 points, or 0.35 per cent, higher at 5,724.40.
Globally, stock markets remained mixed as investors sought the safety of dollar before the US Presidential polls and a Greek parliamentary vote on key austerity measures.