The benchmark Sensex rose for the third straight session on Thursday, adding 24 points after choppy trade on buying in auto, IT and healthcare stocks ahead of the earnings season.

The 30-share S&P BSE Sensex, which gained 354 points in the previous two sessions, traded between 20,135.91 and 20,323.77 before ending at 20,272.91, advancing 23.65 points, or 0.12 per cent.

The 50-share CNX Nifty on the National Stock Exchange rose 13.5 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 6,020.95. The SX40 on the MCX Stock Exchange added 23.42 points to 12,079.15.

Brokers said investors turned cautious and parked their funds in less risky and fundamentally strong stocks ahead of the second-quarter earnings season, starting on Friday with Infosys results.

They said a firm trend in the Asian region and a higher opening in Europe amid signs US lawmakers will agree on a compromise deal to avoid an unprecedented default, fuelled the uptrend.

Among the Sensex shares, 14 closed with gains. Infosys, the second most valued software company, rose 0.53 per cent to Rs 3,124.15, completing a four-day rising streak.

Other gainers included Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra and Mahindra, NTPC, State Bank of India, Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Wipro and HDFC Ltd.

The auto sector index gained the most, rising 1.94 per cent, after some banks reduced lending rates for car and scooter loans. The metal sector added 0.49 per cent.

The IT sector index rose 0.44 per cent and the healthcare index 0.36 per cent.

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