Sensex jumps 170 points to post a 3-week closing high

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Mumbai, Feb 18: The benchmark Sensex Tuesday shot up 170 points to a nearly three-week closing high of 20,634.21, driven by gains in banking, capital goods and auto shares as investors continued to cheer the interim budget proposals.

The Sensex, which had gained 271 points in the previous two sessions, rose further by 170.15 points, or 0.83 per cent, to close at 20,634.21 — the highest level since January 29. Axis Bank, HDFC, ICICI Bank and Maruti Suzuki led the 21 gainers in 30-share Sensex. GAIL and ITC were among laggards.

The 50-scrip National Stock Exchange index Nifty rose 53.80 points, or 0.89 per cent, to close at 6,127.10.

“While announcing the Interim Budget, the Finance Minister stated government will contain the fiscal deficit at 4.6 per cent of GDP. This has boosted investor confidence and buying interest was seen. Excise duty cuts in sectors such as Auto and Capital Goods also led to renewed buying,” said Rakesh Goyal, Senior Vice President, Bonanza Portfolio.

Banking stocks lead the upsurge on rising hopes that improving economic growth would boost lending business, brokers said. Global rating agency Moody’s has said India’s interim budget is in line with the policy assumptions that underpin its ‘Baa3′ rating with a stable outlook.

Sectorally, the BSE Banking sector index gained the most by rising 2.34 per cent, followed by Capital Goods (2.09 per cent), Power (1.73 per cent), Metal (1.03 per cent) and Auto (0.96 per cent). Overall, eight indices gained, three fell and TECK index closed flat. PTI