Mumbai: The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex managed 44 point gain on Friday at 18,420 on fag-end buying in stocks of IT, banking and capital goods at lower levels, although global markets were weak on disappointing US job data.

The 30-share barometer opened lower at 18,344.27 and dropped to day's low of 18,258.42 on selling pressure amid continuing concerns over inflation and high interest rate regime.

However, it recovered to the day's high of 18,458.63 before ending at 18,420.11, up 43.63 points or 0.24 per cent from its last weekend's level.

Similarly, broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty closed up 15.30 points at 5,532.05, after touching a low of 5,479.85.

Auto stocks slipped on reports that a government panel, expected to meet on Thursday, make raise prices of diesel. It is also expected to raise cooking gas rates and, together with
diesel, the price hike might fan inflation leading to further rise interest rates, brokers said.

Besides Bajaj Auto and M&M, Jaiprakash Associates, Hindalco, ONGC, Reliance Infra and Hindustan Unilver also fell moderately on selling pressure.

"The Sensex bounced back into the positive territory at the end of the day on account of short covering. Market advance - decline ratio was not favourable," said Parag Doctor, Associate Vice President at Motilal Oswal Securities.

Blue chips such as Infosys, TCS, HDFC Bank, ICICI, Cipla and L&T were the major gainers of the day.

Among the Sensex gainers, Cipla shot up 2.25 per cent, HDFC (1.74 pc), HDFC Bank (1.09 pc), TCS (1.01 pc), Infosys (0.89 pc), ICICI (0.87 pc) and Larsen (0.77 pc).

However, Jaiprakash Asso fell 2.54 per cent, followed by Hindlaco (1.61 pc), Bajaj Auto (1.53 pc), M&M (1.51 pc), ONGC (1.38 pc), Rel Infra (1.18 pc) and HUL (1.05 pc).

From the sectoral indices the BSE-IT firmed 0.81 per cent, Healthcare by 0.71 per cent, Capital Goods by 0.60 per cent and Bankex by 0.55 per cent.

However, the BSE-Metal declined by 0.68 per cent, Auto by 0.55 per cent and Oil & Gas by 0.36 per cent.

The total market breadth at BSE continued with the negative trend as 1,461 counters closing with losses against 1,326 that ending with gains.

(Agencies)