The BSE benchmark index Sensex on Wednesday closed at record high of 21,337.67 points gaining 86.55 points as buying emerged in pharma, metal and banking stocks on expectations of strong corporate earnings and rate cut by the Reserve Bank.

The 30-share barometer, which rose for the third straight day, surpassed its previous all-time high of 21,326.42 points set on December 9 when the results of Assembly elections were announced. The Sensex had gained 187.50 in the previous two trading sessions.

The trading sentiment bolstered following steady inflow of corporate earnings like Torrent Pharma and HDFC Ltd, brokers said. Sun Pharmaceutical surged by 2.85 per cent on hopes of better earnings.

“Street beginning to hope for a rate cut. The movement in the Bank Nifty on Tuesday suggests that the markets are beginning to hope for a rate cut at the ensuing meeting of the Reserve Bank of India,” brokerage HDFC Securities said. The RBI will announce its monetary policy review on January 28.

The broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty rose by 25.15 points to 6,338.95, a little away from record level of 6,363.90. The Bank Nifty rose by 1.49 per cent.

The market received another push on firming trend in the Asian region and higher opening in Europe on signs of improving global economy, brokers said.

In 30-BSE index components, 20 stocks climbed led by Reliance Industries, ICICI Bank, Infosys and Dr Reddy’s Lab.

Cipla, HDFC, Hindalco, Mahindra and Mahindra, Tata Steel and Wipro post gains up to 2.28 per cent.

The rally was led by healthcare sector, which surged the most by adding 1.31 per cent to 10,317.28 followed by metal index by 0.93 per cent to 9,823.43. Oil and Gas index rose by 0.76 per cent to 8,709.94 and the realty index by 0.55 per cent to 1,350.98.

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