Indian equities markets rallied for the seventh consecutive week
, helped to a large extent by continuing foreign fund inflows and hopes of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India, as latest data showed inflation easing considerably.
The 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) ended the week at 18,289.35 points, up 3.05 per cent or 540.66 points from its previous week's close at 17,748.69 points.
The 50-scrip S&P CNX Nifty of the National Stock Exchange also gained 3.28 per cent or 182.7 points during the week to close on Friday at 5,381.6 points.
Since the beginning of the year, Indian markets have been riding a firm bull rally. The Sensex has shot up over 18 per cent or 2,834 points till Feb 17. The Nifty too has shot up 20 per cent or 940 points in a little over a month.
Foreign fund flows have been the main catalyst of this rise. According to data from the Securities and Exchange Board of India, foreign institutional investors have pumped in close to $7 billion in Indian equities markets in just two months of 2012.
In January, overseas funds flow was over $2 billion and in this month till Feb 17, a whopping $4.85 billion were put in.
Broader markets did better during the week. The BSE 500 index rose 3.69 per cent, while the BSE midcap index gained 4.77 per cent. The BSE smallcap index moved up 3.27 per cent.
India's annual inflation slipped
to 6.55 per cent in January, lower than what was expected and at its slowest in 26 months, bringing relief to the policymakers and raising hopes of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) sooner.
During the week under review, gainers on the Sensex included: BHEL, up 15.4 per cent at Rs 303.45; SBI, up 10.2 per cent at Rs 2,416.75; Tata Steel, up 9.9 per cent at Rs 478; and L&T, up 7.3 per cent at Rs1,448.65.
Among losers on the 30-scrip index were: Cipla, down 8.9 per cent at Rs 321.55; RIL, down 4 per cent at Rs 817.90; Hindalco, down 3.6 per cent at Rs 151.10; and Coal India, down 2.7 per cent at Rs 324.85.
Asian markets also rallied during the week with hopes rising that eurozone officials will soon agree to a bailout package for Greece.
The Japanese Nikkei rose 4.88 per cent during the week to close at 9,384.17 points, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng moved up 3.41 per cent and ended at 21,491.62 points on Friday.
The Chinese Shanghai Composite index closed on a dull note, rising only 0.22 per cent to end the week at 2,357.18 points.
European markets too saw gains.
Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.9 per cent to close at 5,905.07 points, the German DAX closed 2.32 per cent up at 6,848.03 points while the French CAC 40 gained 1.97 per cent at 3,439.62 points.
In the United States
, the Dow Jones Industrial Average index rose 1.16 per cent to close at 12,949.87 points and the S&P 500 index closed 1.38 per cent higher at 1,361.23 points on Friday.
The technology heavy Nasdaq index went up 1.65 per cent to close at 2,951.78 points.