Shrugging off negative sentiments, the Sensex on Thursday rallied nearly 174 points to close at 18,804.75 on all-round buying amid hopes of better-than- expected September quarter earnings from Infosys and HDFC Bank, and growth in industrial production data.

Brokers said investors were also enthused by Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s comment in Tokyo that there was no serious threat of downgrade of the country’s credit rating by Standard and Poor’s.

After nose-diving by 162 points on Wednesday in a knee-jerk reaction to S&P’s rating downgrade threat, the BSE benchmark index today picked up pace around mid-session and the index hit the day’s high of 18,847.81.

It finally closed at 18,804.75, a rise of 173.65 points or 0.93 per cent over the previous closing of 18,631.10. Infosys, L&T , ITC, Tata Motors and HDFC Bank fuelled today’s rise.

BHEL, Bharti Airtel and Sterlite Industries, which rose over 2 per cent each, were among the Sensex best performers.

The NSE Nifty closed up 55.90 points at at 5,708.05.

“The rally has come ahead of multiple events tomorrow. Infosys will announce quarterly numbers. Today’s 1.53 per cent gain in IT major’s shares suggest upbeat expectations. HDFC Bank will also announce numbers. On top of these, August IIP number is also expected,” said Milan Bavishi, Head Research, Inventure Growth & Securities.

Overall, 1,656 stocks led by realty, capital goods, metal, power and banks gained while 1,183 scrips including shares from healthcare fell.

Fertiliser stocks also advanced on reports that the government raised urea price by Rs 50 per tonne.

Investor wealth, measured by market capitalisation, rose by Rs 64,000 crore to Rs 65.92 lakh crore.

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