A host of positive factors lifted the benchmark sensex past 18K-mark to settle at 6-1/2-month high of 18,202.41, up by a whopping nearly 354 points, extending gains for the third day in a row. Expectations of cut in key interest rates by the Reserve Bank in near term after fall in overall inflation announced yesterday amid excellent Q3 results by the country’s largest truck maker Tata Motor helped the realty, banking and auto counters to spiral upwards for the third straight day. Capital goods, power and consumer durable stocks too were in limelight while 12 out of 13 sectoral indices closed in the green but only BSE-Oil&Gas finished in the red following fall in the top heavyweight, RIL on news that the KG-D6 gas fields may see gas output falling next fiscal. Frenetic buying by foreign funds was the main reason behind the current unprecedented rally. Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) yesterday bought shares worth Rs 1030.12 crore as per provisional data with stock exchanges. They pumped in a massive over Rs 20,890 crore in the current calender year till February 13. On the global front, Asian markets closed with gains while European stocks too were trading firm after Japan’s central bank’s move to support the economy and on hopes Greece will ultimately take the steps needed to secure its second bailout, such as spending cuts and other reforms, which had also a positive rub-off on Indian bourses. The Bombay Stock Exchange 30-share barometer resumed at 18K-level and improved further to settle at 6-1/2 month high of 18,202.41, netting a gain of 353.84 points or 1.98 per cent. Last time, it had ended at 18,314.33 on August 1, 2011. Key indices in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan gained up to 2.30 per cent. In Europe, the CAC (France), DAX (Germany) and FTSE (UK) were up by up to a per cent. Of the 30 Sensex stocks, 27 scrips finished with gains, while only three ended in the red. However, RIL dropped by 1.43 per cent, followed by Cipla -0.75 per centt and HUL -0.75 per cent. Among sectoral indices, Realty shot up 5.01 per cent, Capital Goods -4.01 per cent, Power -3.56 per cent, Bankex -3.55 per cent, Auto — 3.33 per cent, Consumer Durables —3.07 per cent and Metals -2.13 per cent. Market breadth at the BSE was positive, with 1,896 stocks gaining ground, and 1,081 finishing with losses. The total.turnover shot up further to Rs 4,139.38 crore from Rs 3,556.76 crore on Tuesday.