Mumbai, Jun 18 (PTI) Equity benchmarks notched up robust gains on Thursday as investors piled into banking and finance stocks despite weak global cues and geopolitical volatility.
After starting on a tepid note, the 30-share BSE Sensex gained momentum in late-afternoon trade to close at 34,208.05, up 700.13 points, or 2.09 per cent.
Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty jumped 210.50 points, or 2.13 per cent, to 10,091.65.
HDFC Bank, Reliance Industries and HDFC accounted for over half of the Sensex's gains.
In absolute terms, Bajaj Finance was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, climbing 5.46 per cent, followed by Kotak Bank, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, SBI and PowerGrid.
On the other hand, ONGC, HUL, TCS, Bharti Airtel, Sun Pharma and Maruti were among the laggards, shedding up to 0.71 per cent.
Traders said banking shares witnessed a relief rally after the Centre informed the Supreme Court that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has decided to withdraw 96 per cent of the Rs 4 lakh crore demand for AGR related dues raised against non-telecom PSUs like GAIL.
However, DoT sought time from the bench to respond to the affidavits filed by private telecom companies, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, on payment of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues.
Meanwhile, Indian and Chinese militaries held Major General-level dialogue on Thursday for the third consecutive day on disengagement of troops as well as restoration of normalcy in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh. 'In spite of negative global cues, Indian indices ended the day positive with steady gains. With the Supreme court AGR ruling providing a respite to the exposed banks, the relief was visible in the banking stocks especially those which had exposure to the telecom companies. The banking index contributed the most to the positivity and almost all components of the index ended the day positive.
'The current geopolitical situation and associated comments also gave some support to sectoral movements. Caution is advised,' said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.
BSE bankex, finance, metal, power and energy indices rallied up to 3.81 per cent, while telecom and healthcare ended in the red. Broader BSE mid-cap and small-cap indices spurted up to 1.48 per cent.
Fitch Ratings on Thursday lowered India's outlook to negative from stable for the first time in eight years, saying the coronavirus pandemic had significantly weakened the country's growth outlook for the year and exposed the challenges associated with a high public-debt burden.
Global markets wobbled on concerns over a second wave of coronavirus cases.
Bourses in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul settled with losses, while Shanghai closed in the positive territory.
Stock exchanges in Europe were trading on a mixed note in early trade.
International oil benchmark Brent crude futures inched up 0.76 per cent to USD 41.02 per barrel.
The number of cases around the world linked to COVID-19 has crossed 83.31 lakh and the death toll has topped 4.48 lakh.
A record single-day spike of 12,881 COVID-19 cases took India's total tally to 3,66,946 while the death toll climbed to 12,237 on Thursday, according to the Union Health Ministry.
On the currency front, the rupee settled on a flat note, registering a rise of just 2 paise to 76.14 against the US dollar. PTI ANS ABM ABM