Rising for the second consecutive session, the Bombay Stock Exchange's 30-share barometer settled the day higher by 85.01 points, or 0.46 per cent, at 18,645.06 -- its best close since February, 2008.
Trading on Dalal Street was choppy and at one point of trade, the Sensex touched a high of 18,711.20, but profit- booking shaved off some gains. The market also lost some steam on account of the absence of positive cues from Asian and European markets, brokers said.
The wide-based 50-share Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange added 0.49 per cent to close above the psychological 5,600-mark for the first time since January, 2008. The index ended at 5,604.
"The market is rallying on the back of FII inflows and if nothing bad happens overseas, domestic markets are likely to further go up," Anand Rathi Financial Services Vice-President (Retail) D D Sharma said.
Extending gains for the second consecutive session, energy major Reliance Industries Ltd rose 0.91 per cent to settle at Rs 961.85. Yesterday, RIL jumped 3 per cent, fuelling a sharp rise of 338 points in the Sensex.
"The upward movement on RIL counter, which has been under -performing in recent period, is supporting the rally," Sharma said.
Cement stocks shot up on reports of price appreciation in in South India. ACC soared up by 6.67 per cent and was the top gainer in the Sensex pack. Jaiprakash Associates rose 1.67 per cent. Madras Cements led the gain among cement stocks and ended with a net rise of 14 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. The sharpest price hike has been reported in the Andhra Pradesh market.
Shares of consumer goods, IT, metal and technology were the major gainers, while realty, pharma and financial stocks suffered the most.
IT stocks extended gains for another day as better-than-expected jobs data from the US allayed concerns that global economic growth is faltering. Infosys rose 0.85 per cent, TCS 1.89 per cent and Wipro 0.72 per cent.
Other major gainers were L&T, which climbed 2.33 per cent, Jindal Steel 1.67 per cent, NTPC 1.53 per cent and Maruti 1.07 per cent.
In the BSE-30 pack, 19 stocks ended with gains, while 11 scrips settled in the red.
HUL led the losers pack and ended nearly 1 per cent lower. Banking stocks took a breather, with SBI falling 0.81 per cent, HDFC Bank 0.62 per cent and ICICI Bank 0.15 per cent. DLF slipped 0.52 per cent and R-Infra 0.15 per cent.
"Indian markets at the current valuations are trading slightly ahead of times, which mean that the upside may be capped and may face some headwinds in the shorter term, but we remain positive in the medium term on India," Kotak Mutual Fund said in a note.