Mumbai: The BSE benchmark Sensex on Thursday surged by nearly 172 points in early trade on buying by funds and retail investors, driven by encouraging quarterly earnings by corporates and firming trend on the other Asian bourses.

The 30-share BSE index, which had gained over 437 points in the previous two sessions, rose by another 171.72 points, or 0.99 per cent, to 17,472.30, with all sectoral indices gaining up to 1.41 per cent.

The wide-based National Stock Exchange Nifty Index moved up by 44.75 points, or 0.85 per cent to 5,280.45 points.

Brokers said continued capital inflows by foreign funds following an improvement in the sentiments on better-than- expected third quarter earnings by some corporates and strong sales in January by auto makers, supported the rally.

Also, firming trend on the other Asian bourses following overnight gains in the US stocks also buoyed the sentiments here, they said.

In the Asian region, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose by 1.35 per cent and Japan's Nikkei Index by 0.87 per cent in morning trade on Thursday.

The US Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.66 per cent higher on Wednesday.