Mumbai: The BSE benchmark Sensex on Wednesday rose by nearly 98 points led by gains in bluechips, including HUL, NTPC and Wipro, buoyed by government's decision to liberalize FDI norms in a dozen sectors.

The 30-share index started the day on a firm footing at 19,970.02, higher by 118 points from Wednesday’s close. It, however, erased some of the early gains during the day and closed 97.50 points, or 0.49 percent higher at 19,948.73.

Sensex had closed down by 183.25 points in the previous session. Similarly, the wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty gained 18.05 points, or 0.30 percent, to close at 5,973.30.

Brokers said the market sentiment was boosted after the government on Wednesday announced to hike foreign direct investment (FDI) in a dozen sectors, including 100 percent in telecom and higher caps in insurance and defence sectors, to boost the sagging economy.

They said a better earning by companies like Infosys and HDFC Bank for the first quarter further supported the uptrend. A firming trend in the Asian region ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S Bernanke's address to the US Congress, further influenced the sentiment, they added.

Out of the 30 BSE components, 15 stocks ended higher led by Hindustan Unilever rising 9.86 percent to Rs 684.75, followed by NTPC (3.18 percent) and Wipro (2.96 percent). Sectorwise, the FMCG sector index led the gains rising 3.39 percent to 7,400.33, followed by consumer durables (1.10 percent) and IT sector (1 percent).

(Agencies)

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