Domestic equity markets remained in the thick of action after last week's splendid rally, with hopes of a rate-cut by the central bank gaining traction helping the benchmark Sensex and Nifty end above the crucial levels of 25,000 and 7,700-mark, respectively.
The Sensex ended in the positive zone for the second straight session soaring 333 points to close at 25,285, a near 11-week high. The broader NSE Nifty again went past the 7,700 level.
A cautious stance of the US Federal Reserve meaning more capital inflows and the government's decision to slash rates on small savings added to expectations that RBI will go the distance and lower rate at its first policy meet of 2016-17 on April 5.
Additionally, a lower retail inflation at 5.18 percent in February provides more room for RBI to act, said traders. Sustained foreign fund inflows and a rising rupee brightened mood further, they added.
After recapturing the 25,000-mark, the 30-share Sensex advanced to a high of 25,327.45 before settling higher by 332.63 points, or 1.33 percent, at 25,285.37 -- its highest closing since January 6.
The gauge had gained 275.37 points on Friday as foreign funds continued to pump in money amid a firm global trend after the Fed indicated a slower pace of rate increases in coming days. The 50-share Nifty too recaptured the 7,700-mark and ended at 7,704.25, up 99.90 points, or 1.31 percent.
In the 30-share Sensex kitty, Hindustan Unilever emerged as the top gainer, up 4.05 percent, followed by SBI 2.93 percent, Sun Pharma 2.42 percent and L&T 2.38 percent.
Tata Motors, Wipro, HDFC Ltd, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Bharti Airtel, ITC Ltd, HDFC Bank, Cipla, ONGC, Maruti Suzuki and RIL all advanced.
Jewellery stocks today rose sharply by up to 11.11 percent after jewellers called off their 18-day old strike demanding rollback of proposed excise duty on non-silver jewellery. On BSE, Shares of Shree Ganesh Jewellery House jumped 11.11 percent, Gitanjali Gems 7.10 percent, Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri 10.53 percent, PC Jeweller 3.22 percent and Titan Company 1.24 percent.
Capital goods hogged limelight by rising 2.01 percent, followed by consumer durables (1.80 percent), realty (1.78 percent), banking (1.70 percent), FMCG (1.65 percent), PSU (1.21 percent), auto (1.19 percent) and oil & gas (1.18 percent).
The broader markets too ticked up, helped by persistent buying by retail investors. The BSE mid-cap and small-cap closed higher by up to 1.36 per cent. Globally, Asian stocks ruled firm and even Europe had a better trend in early deals.
In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended 0.06 percent up while Japanese financial markets remained closed today for a public holiday. Shanghai Composite closed 2.15 percent higher after policymakers loosened controls on margin lending.
Meanwhile, foreign investors bought shares worth Rs 1,712.62 crore on Friday, as per provisional data.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Mar 21, 2016 19:17 PM