By Manoj Dharra
MUMBAI (Reuters) - The BSE Sensex gained for a second straight session on Wednesday as hopes about the U.S. economy and a weakening rupee boosted software services exporters, while Larsen & Toubro gained after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to "buy."
Domestic gains came as part of a global equity rally on the back of the U.S. accommodative monetary policy and expectations of pledges of support for growth from the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan this week.
At home, investors are hopeful the Reserve Bank of India will cut interest rates later this month given a sharp slowdown in growth, although the country's record high current account deficit remains a key worry.
"I firmly believe that the rally should sustain as we expect some more initiatives by the government and the RBI should also cut rates in its March meeting," said G. Chokkalingam, executive director and chief investment officer, Centrum Wealth Management.
Domestic institutional selling should also dry up since the fiscal year-end is near, added Chokkalingam.
The benchmark BSE Sensex rose 0.57 percent, or 109.44 points, to end at 19,252.61, the highest close since February 25, after having touched a three-month low on Monday.
The broader Nifty rose 0.59 percent, or 34.35 points, to end at 5,818.60.
Those gains tracked advances in global equity markets, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting a record closing high on Tuesday, while European shares hit their highest since the 2008 collapse of U.S. bank Lehman Brothers.
Expectations that earnings will improve this year, especially in the United States on easy monetary policy, boosted domestic technology shares.
Larsen & Toubro Ltd (NSI:LT.NS - News) gained 2.63 percent after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to "buy" from "neutral", citing cheaper valuations after recent underperformance against the broader index and the prospect of stable revenue growth over the medium term.
DLF Ltd (NSI:DLF.NS - News) gained 3.92 percent ahead of its board meeting later in the day in which the property developer is expected to decide on a share sale that traders are betting could come at a higher-than-expected price.
However, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (NSI:M&M) fell 2.18 percent a day after the automaker said in an exchange filing it had received a notice of strike from the employees union at its Nashik plant, while saying work had stopped briefly in two assembly shops at the plant.
AstraZeneca Pharma India (NSI:ASTRAZEN.NS - News) slumped 6.31 percent a day after the company said in a statement promoter AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals AB Sweden decided to reduce its shareholding in the company from the current 89.99 percent.
Traders had expected the delisting of the Indian unit of the Swedish drugmaker, and not a stake sale to meet the minimum public shareholding requirement.
(Additional reporting by Abhishek Vishnoi; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)