Mumbai: The Sensex on Wednesday rose by 61 points, led by metal and power stocks, amid expectations of more economic reforms in view of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself taking over the additional charge of Finance Ministry.

The BSE benchmark index, which had gained about 24 points in the previous session, scaled the key 17,000 level in early trade on positive Asian trends. After trading in a 122-point range, the index finally closed at 16,967.76, up 61.18 points or 0.36 percent.

The 30-share Sensex's gains were led by Tata Steel, Tata Power, Sterlite Industries, Sun Pharma and Hindalco that rose in 1.3-2.5 percent range.

Likewise, the 50-share National Stock Exchange index Nifty rose by 21.10 points to 5,141.90, after touching the day's high of 5,160.10.

Brokers said the stock market sentiment remained firm on optimism that Singh would take steps to stem the rupee's slide and revive the faltering economy after taking charge of the finance portfolio.

"Investors expect strong reforms from PM Manmohan Singh after he took over the charge of Finance Ministry," said RMN Finance head Rajiv Malik.

He also said investors covered their recently created open positions ahead of the current month's settlement in the derivatives segment on Thursday.

The BSE-Metal index gained the most by rising 1.55 percent to 10,409.06 points. It was followed by BSE-Power index gaining 1.03 percent to 1,911.99 points on expectations the recent power tariff hike in Delhi would improve earnings.

Barring Korea and China, indices of most Asian countries rose in the 0.7-1.3 percent range on Wednesday. European indices were also trading in positive in early trade.

Global markets were higher on reports that the US housing market was bottoming out and China might step up economic stimulus to ease concerns, dealers said.

(Agencies)

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