After opening in the positive zone, the BSE Sensex index shuttled between 20,358.19 and 20,079.82 on alternate bouts of buying and selling. It closed at 20,310.74, a gain of 49.71 points, or 0.25 per cent. In 30-scrip barometer, 16 stocks gained while 14 ended down. Tata Power and Coal India logged best gains while BHEL and Cipla were the biggest laggards.
Sensex has gained 101.48 points in 3 days. Before that, it shed 1,100 points as the index fell for six days in seven.
Today's closing value is the highest for Sensex since 20,513.85 on January 31.
Brokers said the market managed to end higher on fresh buying in FMCG sector after index-linked ITC and Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) spurted on bargain-hunting.
The FMCG index gained the most among BSE sectoral indices by rising 1.36 per cent as HUL (2.90 per cent) and ITC (1.77 per cent) jumped.
The 50-share NSE index Nifty rose by 13.90 points, or 0.23 per cent, to end at 6,036.30, after touching a low of 5,965.40. This was also the barometer's highest close since 6,089.50 on January 31.
Traders said a firming Asian trend and higher opening in Europe as investors weighed earnings and US data showing service-industries growth, further influenced the sentiment.
The upsurge, however, was capped as stocks of banking and information technologies sectors surrendered intra-day gains on profit-booking. ICICI Bank, State Bank of India, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services lost in the one per cent range.
Besides FMCG, consumer durable sector index was second best BSE sectoral performer as it gained one per cent. On the other hand, banking sector index lost 0.23 per cent and IT sector index edged 0.17 per cent lower. The worst performer, however, was Realty that slumped 1.57 per cent.
BSE Sensex rises 50 pts to end at 20,310.74, US jobs data eyed
(Reuters) BSE Sensex index posted slight gains for a second consecutive session, continuing to be supported at its 200-day moving average, as blue-chips such as ITC Ltd recovered on bargain-hunting after the index had fallen steeply over the previous two weeks.
The index recovered after briefly slumping as much as 0.95 percent in the morning, after multiple trades were placed shorting index futures in early trades, several dealers said.
Gains also tracked higher global shares ahead of a euro zone monetary policy decision later on Thursday and emerging stocks rebounding from this week's five-month lows.
Investors, however, remain cautious with the U.S. non-farm payrolls report as well as India's advance economic growth estimates for 2013/14 looming on Friday.
"India's GDP may better estimates but U.S. jobs data would give cues on how Fed would react to stimulus in future, which is of utmost importance to all emerging markets," said Deven Choksey, managing director at K R Choksey Securities.
The broader NSE index rose 0.23 percent, or 13.90 points, to end at 6,036.30.
The benchmark BSE Sensex index rose 0.25 percent, or 49.71 points, to end at 20,310.74, rising for a third consecutive session.
Among blue-chip shares, ITC Ltd gained 1.8 percent, while HDFC Bank rose 1.5 percent.
Coal India surged 4.7 percent while Hindustan Unilever rose 2.9 percent.
Tata Communications shares surged 8 percent after South Africa's Vodacom Group VODJ.J said it was close to finalising negotiations with the company for the purchase of its Neotel unit.
ACC Ltd gained 1.8 percent after the company's December-quarter consolidated net profit rose 10.5 percent to 2.76 billion rupees, beating some analysts estimates.
Jet Airways surged 10.7 percent after India's competition regulator on Wednesday approved Etihad Airways' 50.1 percent stake buy in its frequent flier unit.
However, IT companies fell after Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp forecast 2014 revenue below analysts' expectations on Wednesday, raising concerns about the sector's growth prospects, dealers said.
Infosys Ltd fell 0.5 percent while Tata Consultancy Services ended 0.9 percent lower.
* BSE index gains 0.25 pct; NSE ends 0.23 pct higher
* NSE index earlier slumped on sudden shorting of index futures
* IT shares fall on Cognizant revenue outlook
FACTORS TO WATCH
* Euro steady before ECB decision; Aussie up on data
* Brent steady above $106; premium to U.S. crude narrows
* Stocks edge higher; euro ticks down before ECB
* Foreign institutional investor flows