The BSE benchmark Sensex today breached the 20,000-level after two years but settled a tad lower at 19,986.82, still over 80 points higher, amid strong buying on rate cut hopes and signs of robust earnings from corporates in December quarter.
After crossing 20,000 points level in early trade and again for a second time in the last hour, the Sensex closed with a gain 80.41 points, or 0.40 per cent, at 19,986.82.
This was the first time since January 6, 2011 that the index crossed the 20,000-mark.
Buying was seen mainly in blue-chip stocks like ITC, Bharti Airtel, ICICI Bank, Tata Motors and ONGC, that contributed the most to Sensex rise. However, profit booking in counters like Infosys, CIL, SBI and Sterlite capped gains.
Bharti Airtel, which rose 4.81 per cent, was the best performer in Sensex today on hopes of tariff hikes.
While the sentiment was buoyant on good set of numbers from Tata Consultancy Services, HCL Tech and Axis Bank, lack of direction due to global markets closing narrowly mixed did not help Indian markets, experts said.
The NSE Nifty closed with a gain of 32.55 points, or 0.54 per cent, at 6,056.60, after touching day's high of 6,068.50.
Stocks of rate-sensitive banking, realty and auto sectors were in limelight on heightened expectations of a rate cut.
The RBI meets on January 29 to review its monetary policy.
"It was another strong day for the markets with the Sensex crossing the 20000 mark during the day. Strong results from companies so far have buoyed the sentiments of market," said Dipen Shah, Head of PCG Research, Kotak Securities.
Yesterday, Sensex had spurted by 242.77 points after postponement of the implementation of controversial GAAR by two years until April 2016 and fall in inflation (WPI) to 3-year low. Globally, Asian stocks ended mixed as US stocks closed on a muted note yesterday.
Key benchmark indices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea fell by 0.14 per cent to 1.16 per centm, while indices in China and Japan moved up by 0.60-0.72 per cent.
European markets were also trading narrowly mixed as indices in France and London inched up by 0.09 per cent to 0.10 per cent and Germany eased by 0.02 per cent.
Turning to the local market, Infosys today reacted downwards by 0.62 per cent after two days of sharp gains on good Q3 results while TCS, after gaining over 4.9 per cent in early trade on robust Q3 results announced late yesterday, fell back at the fag-end to close mostly stable.
Overall, 15 scrips out of the Sensex pack ended with gains and 13 closed with losses while two ruled steady.
Other major gainers from the Sensex were ITC (1.98 pc), ICICI Bank (1.53 pc), Tata Power (1.51 pc), Bajaj Auto (1.07 pc) and Tata Motors (0.84 pc).
However, Coal India dropped by 1.54 per cent, followed by Sterlite Ind (1.31 pc) and Jindal Steel (0.74 pc).
The total market breadth turned negative 1,154 stocks ended with losses while 1,126 finished with gains. The total turnover rose to Rs 2,450.40 crore from Rs 2,280.41 crore yesterday.
Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) bought shares worth a net Rs 611.10 crore yesterday as per provisional data from the stock exchanges.