Mumbai:  Stock markets opened on a promising note on the first trading day of 2012 with the BSE benchmark Sensex gaining over 69 points in early trade.

The 30-share index rose by 69.12 points, or 0.45 percent to trade higher at 15,524.04 points after the government decided to allow Qualified Foreign Investors to directly invest in the Indian equity market.

The Sensex had lost over 507 points in the previous four sessions.

The broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty rose by 11.60 points, or 0.25 percent to 4,635.90.

Brokers said sentiments turned better after the government decided to allow Qualified Foreign Investors (QFIs) to directly invest in the Indian equity market in order to widen the class of investors, attract more foreign funds and reduce market volatility.

Auto stocks gained on reports of higher sales in December. Tata Motors rose by 2.07 percent to Rs 182.10, Maruti Suzuki by 0.54 percent to Rs 925, while Mahindra & Mahindra by 1.08 percent to Rs 690.45.

(Agencies)