Mumbai: The Sensex on Thursday edged up 21 points to close at 18,021.16, a seven-month high, as cautious sentiment prevailed ahead of the US Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) outcome later in the day and monthly inflation data on Friday.

After closing above 18,000 mark on Wednesday, the BSE benchmark index opened marginally higher but failed to build on major gains as trading remained range-bound between 17,976.28 and 18,062.68. The Sensex finally closed at 18,021.16, extending the current rally to seven straight days.

Hero MotoCorp which gained 1.87 percent, led the 19 gainers in the 30-share Sensex. Bhel, HUL, Bajaj Auto and ICICI Bank were among the other gainers.

Shares of Bharti Airtel that slumped 2.85 percent and Cipla that lost 2.44 percent, dragged down the index.

"It was a quiet day on the bourses ahead of two critical events. The outcome of US FOMC will be out on Thursday and secondly, inflation numbers will be declared in India on Friday," said Nagji K Rita, CMD, Inventure Growth & Securities.

 The 50-share National Stock Exchange index Nifty rose by 4.35 points, or 0.08 percent to 5,435.35.

Brokers said expectations are building up that US Fed will once again announce a monetary easing program, which will add liquidity to the system and eventually give a boost to stocks.

The BSE FMCG sector index gained the most by rising 0.58 percent to 5,433.46 points, followed by BSE Oil and Gas sector by 0.44 percent to 8,473.25 points.

Oil & gas counters including BPCL, ONGC, IOC and HPCL closed higher ahead of a fuel price hike decision likely to be taken in the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) meeting that will be held later in the day.


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