Stocks kept their forward momentum intact for the third straight session as the Sensex today gained over 485 points to 26,367 -- nearly a 7-month high -- on upbeat quarterly earnings and rebound in crude oil prices.
Improvement in March quarter numbers on the last leg of the earnings season showed the economy is gaining traction, which buoyed sentiment. Oil broke past the USD 50 per barrel for the first time this year after data showed US crude inventory declined, which kept Asian markets in good spirits. Traders said covering-up of short positions on expiry of May month series of derivative contracts at the end of session also helped.
Forecast of a better-than-expected monsoon by private agency Skymet brought investors back from the sidelines. It has predicted a rainfall of 109 per cent of long period average, up from its earlier forecast of 105 per cent.
An appreciating rupee against the US dollar provided more ammo to investors. But in spite of all this, uncertainties over US tightening its monetary policy earlier than expected and a slowing Chinese growth remained as major worrylines.
The Sensex opened strong and surged further before settling at 26,366.68, a solid gain of 485.51 points, or 1.88 per cent. The barometer ended at 26,552.92 on November 4 last year.
The index had gained 650.85 points in the previous two sessions on strong reform measures from the Centre and firm global cues. The 50-share NSE Nifty recaptured the 8,000-mark and hit a high of 8,083.00 before winding up at 8,069.65, a hefty gain of 134.75 points, or 1.70 per cent.
Globally, Asian markets ended higher following an overnight surge on the Wall Street and a higher opening in Europe after crude oil topped USD 50 a barrel. The G7 summit in Japan to take stock of the global economy also infused a sense of confidence, traders said.
As many as 22 scrips out of 30-share Sensex pack ended higher. L&T emerged as the top gainer by rising 14 per cent after the company reported an 18.5 per cent jump in consolidated net profit at Rs 2,453.6 crore for the March quarter.
Other major gainers were SBI (4.91 per cent), BHEL (4.73 per cent), Axis bank (3.35 per cent) and ONGC (3.09 per cent). Capital goods rose 8.78 per cent, followed by banking 2.22 per cent, realty 1.82 per cent and power 1.51 per cent.
Mid-cap and small-cap too rose 1 per cent and 0.86 per cent, respectively, on increased buying by retail investors.