Jittery from an ouster of German Chancellor Angela-Merkel's conservatives in a key state election, the euro dropped further from Friday's levels, while an increasing nuclear contamination threat in Japan, around the ill-fated Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant, heightened investor averseness to riskier assets.
As Asian stocks fell, the domestic markets opened on a soft note, with IT stocks weighing down on the bourses, after two consecutive sessions of gains the previous week.
Shrugging off weak Asian cues, the domestic markets logged gains for the sixth consecutive day, as the Sensex closed up 128 points at 18,943, while the Nifty ended at 5,687 up 33 points.
In the late noon trades, the markets were trading off the day's high, with the Sensex at 18,976 up 160 points, while the Nifty was at 5,692 up 37 points.
Having gained during the late morning session on the back of strong buying in FMCG and auto stocks, the Sensex soon slipped to the day's low of 18,799.57, owing to weakness in heavyweights Reliance and Infosys.
The noon session was marked by choppiness, with the derivatives expiry, due on Thursday, along with a year-end reshuffling of positions also implying a volatile element to the markets.
In the early afternoon session, buying in banking and capital goods stocks saw the markets regain lost ground again, with the Sensex scaling the 19k mark a little after 1400 hrs, for the first time since January 24.
The markets witnessed a choppy day today, even though they traded in the positive through the day.
Investors were seen booking profits during intra-day peaks, as the bourses lodged gains for the fifth consecutive day.
Technical analysts expect markets to maintain an upward trend in the medium term. Devangshu Dutta, a technical analyst, said, "The markets look bullish; support for the Nifty is seen at 5,650, and the resistance is at 5,700. An upside above 5,750 will be driven by break out in the financial stocks."
Engineering major Larsen & Toubro, auto giant Tata Motors and homegrown telecom conglomerate Bharti Airtel contributed 28, 18 and 14 points, respectively, to the Sensex on Monday.
The Sensex was driven by Tata Motors at Rs 1,220, Bharti Airtel at Rs 348 and L&T at Rs 1,639 all up 3%. Other major gainers on the Sensex were Reliance Infra, Maruti Suzuki, Hindustan Unilever and NTPC, up by nearly 2% each.
Losers on the benchmark were Jaiprakash Associates at Rs 88 down 2%, Reliance Communications at Rs 105 also down 2% and Sterlite Industries at Rs 167 down 1%.
Infosys at Rs 3,140 and DLF at Rs 247 were also down nearly 1% each.
Auto stocks were in top gear today, and the index gained nearly 2% at 8,982. Amongst the top gainers, Tata Motors led the pack, followed by Maruti Suzuki at Rs 1,202 up 2% and Cummins India at Rs 662 up a little over 1%.
Apollo Tyres, Bajaj Auto, Ashok Leyland and Hero Honda also gained between 0.7% to 1% each.
The Capital Goods index closed up a little over 1% at 13,184, with L&T leading the gains up nearly 3%.
Alstom Projects was at Rs 570 up 2%, while Praj Industries gained slightly over 1% at Rs 74, followed by ABB, Punj Lloyd and BGR Energy all up 1%.
Financials also witnessed a lot of buying on Monday, with the index touching 13,082 up 1%.
The signifcicant gainers on the index were IndusInd Bank at Rs 264 up 4.5%, IDBI Bank at Rs 146 up 4% and Fedearl Bank at Rs 396 up 3%. Bank of Baroda up 2%, SBI, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and Union Bank, all up 1%, were some of the other stocks that advanced in this space.
However, maintaining a fairly subdued outlook on the banking sector, Harendra Kumar, Head Institutional Equities & Global Research, Elara Capital, said, "I believe the banks would trade sideways in the medium-term. We are not optimistic on the credit growth."