Late rally helps indices to close higher

Markets opened firm in early trades following the lead from US markets which staged a strong rebound on Friday and declining oil prices. It was shortlived though, as the indices lost all their gains soon after and traded flat till noon.

Markets slipped into the red in early afternoon trades on reports of disappointing auto sales numbers and reduction in prices of some metals.

Late afternoon saw a strong rally as traders covered their short positions. The indices rose smartly and closed near their day's highs.

Sensex closed at 6195, up 41 points and the Nifty at 1917, up 14 points. Nifty May futures discount to the spot index narrowed to 10 points from Friday's 20 points.

Among Nifty stocks, Zee Tele, BPCL and HPCL were the major percentage gainers while HLL, ITC and Colgate were the major losers.

Crude futures for June delivery crashed over 4 per cent to settle below $50 to a barrel on Friday. NYMEX crude futures closed at $49.72, its lowest closing since February. Crude has declined further to around $49 in early trades today.