Mumbai: Amid firm global trends coupled with easing crude oil prices and food inflation, the BSE benchmark Sensex ended 43 points up at 18,489.76 on Thursday. 

The Bombay Stock Exchange index Sensex tumbled to a low of 18,253.62 at early stage and touched a high of 18,603.57 midway before ending higher by 43.26 points to 18,489.76 in a volatile trade.

The trading sentiment was mixed, with investors booking profits after Sensex's steepest gain in 21-month in the previous session. At the same time, they picked up capital goods and auto sector stock available at lower levels, absorbing the selling pressure.

Similarly, the broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty gained 13.90 points at 5,536.20, after moving between 5,570.75 and 5,468.25 points.

Food inflation fell to 10.39 per cent for week ended February 19, from 11.49 per cent in the previous week, raising hopes that interest rates may not rise steeply in near future.

Crude oil fell 1.4 per cent to 100.78 dollar a barrel in US after rising to 103.94 dollar.

Investors said that falling crude oil prices reduced fears of further rise in overall inflation, amid hopes of international efforts to reduce tensions in Libya.

A firm trend in the Asian region and higher opening in Europe added to the support.

Strengthening stocks of HDFC Bank, HDFC Ltd, Larsen and Toubro, BHEL, Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Bajaj Auto, Tata Consultancy Services checked the market from any major fall.

The capital goods sector index was major gainer, adding 2.35 per cent to 13,222.99 as Larsen and Toubro, the largest engineering company rose to a one- week high. BHEL stocks
recorded handsome gains on interested buying.

The auto sector index was second-runner by rising 1.86 per cent to 8,880.28, followed by consumer durables index that was up 0.45 per cent to 5,753.50.

On the other hand, stocks in IT, metal, refinery, tech and healthcare sectors remained weak on profit booking.