The market opened on a weak note, tracking cues from Asian peers, and, after a seeing a choppy ride till an hour past noon, moved higher as European markets recovered on expectations of a rate cut from the European Central Bank.
Activity was mostly stock specific on Thursday. Shares from FMCG and banking sectors had a good outing. Some blue chips from capital goods, FMCG, power, automobile and healthcare sectors too ended notably higher.
Information technology stocks found some support in the final hour. Oil, metal and realty stocks were mostly subdued. Even as several large cap stocks struggled for support, a number of stocks from midcap and smallcap segments rallied smartly and ended with strong gains.
The BSE benchmark Sensex, which drifted down to 17,423.45 in early trades, ended the day with a gain of 75.86 points or 0.43% at 17,538.67, off the day's high of 17,562.89.
The National Stock Exchange's 50-stock Nifty index closed at 5327.30, recording a gain of 24.75 points or 0.47%. It touched a low of 5288.85 and a high of 5333.65 during the day.
Retail stocks were in demand on expectations the government will soon allow foreign investors to hold majority stakes in supermarkets and departmental stores. Shares of Trent, Shopper's Stop, Aditya Birla Nuvo and Pantaloon Retail moved up sharply.
REI Agro, the biggest gainer among midcap stocks, shot up by nearly 16%. Anant Raj Industries gained around 8.5%. Cox & Kings, United Bank of India, EID Parry, Alstom Projects, Shree Renuka Sugars, KSK Energy, South Indian Bank, TVS Motor, Apollo Tyres, Eros International and Kirloskar Oil Engines gained 4% - 6%.
The market breadth was strong. Out of 3012 stocks traded on BSE, 1946 stocks moved up. 957 stocks declined and 109 stocks ended flat.