Sensex zooms 160 points on normal monsoon forecast

The Indian equity markets closed at new highs on Thursday, as positive global cues and an appreciating rupee buoyed investors' sentiments.

At the close, the 30-share benchmark index, BSE Sensex ended flat with a rise of 2.81 points or 0.01% at 30,250.98, 15 components posting rise.

The gauge had touched an intra-day high of 9,414.75 in yesterday's trade.

The market breadth turned negative as 1,583 stocks closed in red, while 1,247 finished in green and 162 ruled steady.

At around 12.35 pm, the indices were trading with higher gains; the Sensex was up 96 points at 30,344 and Nifty at 9,446, a gain of 39 points. It is trading up 3% at Rs 194 per share on the BSE.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.2%, led down by construction and materials stocks, having hit its highest since August 2015 on Tuesday. "Financial services stocks were also seen rallying reflecting markets' expectations for further strength in equities", said Anand James, Chief Market Strategist, Geojit Financial Services in a note.

"Banking sector stocks faced resistance at higher levels in the second part of the session and traded with mixed sentiments, while cement sector stocks complimented the firmness of the markets".

In investments, provisional data with the exchanges showed that FIIs purchased stocks worth Rs 893.36 crore, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) divested scrip worth Rs 229.73 crore.

Banks also gained as investors pinned their hopes on easing bad loans in coming quarters after the government tweaked its laws last week to help tackle the record $150 billion in troubled bank debts.

Bharti Airtel was the biggest gainer in the Sensex pack, surging 7.87 per cent to Rs372.70 even as the company reported its lowest quarterly profit in four years for the January-March period. The Nifty too, was up by 90.45 points or 0.97 per cent.

Asian shares, however, edged up for a third consecutive day.

Among the Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei closed up 0.3% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.44%, Korea's Kospi 1.2% and Shanghai up 0.3%.

On the other hand, the S&P BSE oil and gas index fell by 134.37 points, the capital goods index by 91.37 points and the power index by 28.84 points.