Recovering from early losses, the BSE benchmark Sensex on Wedneaday ended almost 22 points higher at a fresh two-and-half year high, ignoring weak global cues.
Rising for the third session in a row, the 30-share index of the Bombay Stock Exchange closed at 18,666.71, up 21.65 points, or 0.12 per cent, with the major contribution coming from SBI, Bharti Airtel, Infosys and HUL.
This is the best close of the Sensex since January 18, 2008, when it settled at 19,013.70.
Tracking weak global cues, domestic markets also opened on a subdued note and were trading in the negative zone till noon. During the day, the Sensex sank by over 100 points to touch a low of 18,540.65, but later recovered on the emergence of buying.
The National Stock Exchange's wide-based 50-share Nifty index finished at 5,607.85, up 0.07 per cent.
"The comeback which was seen in the last hour was on the back of index heavyweights like Bharti Airtel, ACC, SBI and HUL," IIFL Vice-President (Research) Amar Ambani said.
Bharti Airtel rose 2.59 per cent and its rival RCom about 1 per cent. State Bank of India advanced 2 per cent and HUL by 1.74 per cent.
Major cement companies continued their upward journey for the second day in a row on reports of price rise in building material in South India. ACC zoomed 2.98 per cent and was the top gainer in the Sensex pack. Jaiprakash Associates rose 0.25 per cent.
Analysts said the northward movement in these stocks was fuelled by reports that cement prices in South India have gone up by Rs 25-40 per 50-kg bag.
Metal and IT stocks also came to the rescue of the markets. Sterlite Industries rose 1.61 per cent, Jindal Steel 0.62 per cent cent and Tata Steel 0.54 per cent. Hindalco added 0.53 per cent.
IT bellwether Infosys moved up 0.58 per cent, TCS 0.87 per cent and Wipro 0.58 per cent. DLF added 0.33 per cent.
In the BSE-30 pack, 18 stocks ended with gains, while the remaining 12 settled in the red.
After two days of gains, Reliance Industries Ltd took a breather and ended 0.19 per cent lower at Rs 960.05. In the past two days, RIL -- which holds the maximum weight in the Sensex -- recorded a gain of nearly 4 per cent.
Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Infra-led the losers pack and ended 1.77 per cent lower. ITC lost 1.2 per cent and ICICI Bank 1.04 per cent.
Other major losers included L&T, which sank by 0.63 per cent, HDFC Bank (down 0.68 per cent) and HDFC (down 0.38 per cent).
On the global front, Asian stocks ended lower today, with Japan's Nikkei 225 falling by 2.18 per cent after a rise in the yen to a new 15-year high threatened to erode overseas earnings.
Other key indices in Hong Kong, South Korea and China also closed with losses.
European market were almost flat in the afternoon session. US stocks ended in the red on Tuesday.