The election results are due on Sunday. Confirmation of a strong showing by the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party would bolster its chances of a victory in the general elections due by May, according to analysts. BJP is perceived by many investors as being more business friendly.

After galloping over 450 points on exit polls, the benchmark Sensex closed below 21,000-mark as profit booking curbed the rise to about 250 points.

Banking, capital goods and PSU shares were the leaders as nine 9 of the 13 sectoral indices on the BSE rose. However, healthcare, FMCG and IT shares fell.

The Sensex, which lost 189.30 points in the previous two sessions, shot up to day's high of 21,165.60 before ending at 20,957.81 --  a gain of 249.10 points, or 1.20 percent.

Thursday was the first day in a month the index breached the 21,000-level after hitting 21,142.85 intra-day on November 7.

Shares of ICICI Bank shot up 6.66 percent, followed by HDFC Bank (4.52 percent), L&T (4.49 percent). These three stocks accounted for over 210-point surge in the 30-share Sensex where 20 constituents ended in the green. ITC, Sun Pharma, Dr Reddys and TCS were among the 10 that ended lower.

The NSE Nifty barometer, which breached the 6,300 level intra-day, ended 80.15 points, or 1.3 per cent, up at 6241.10.

Brokers said a flurry of buying triggered by exit poll results predicting a good show by the main Opposition party in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi elections, buoyed the trading sentiment. "While the seat forecasts varied between the exit polls, the overall message seemed to be that BJP would be the leading party in all the 4 states. If the results are in line with the exit polls, we think it would be positive for the market. The market is looking for a strong, stable Government post 2014 elections," Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a report.

Mirroring the movement in stocks, the Indian rupee surged to over 5-week high of 61.53 versus dollar in early trade but lost some momentum to trade at 61.77, still 30 paise up compared to Wednesday, when share market closed for the day.

Sectorally, the BSE Banking sector index gained the most by rising 4.44 percent, followed by Capital Goods index (3.59 percent), PSU index (1.51 percent) and Realty index (1.48 percent).

JPN/Agencies

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