Mumbai:Healthy progress of monsoon rains, coupled with short covering on the back of latest key economic decisions and positive global cues, lifted the Indian equity markets to their highest intra-day levels in the last eight months. The rally led both the key indices to close the day's trade with gains of around one per cent each. The wider 51-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) edged up by 83.75 points or 1.02 per cent, at 8,287.75 points. Similarly, the barometer 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE closed with appreciable gains. It opened at 26,926.17 points, to close at 26,999.72 points -- up 259.33 points or 0.97 per cent from the previous close at 26,740.36 points. The Sensex touched a high of 27,069.23 points and a low of 26,872.59 points during the intra-day trade. The BSE market breadth was tilted in favour of the bulls -- with 1,593 advances and 1,027 declines. On Wednesday, the key indices ended on a positive note due to supportive global and domestic cues. The barometer index surged by 215.84 points or 0.81 per cent, while the Nifty edged up by 76.15 points or 0.94 per cent. Initially on Thursday, the key indices opened on a positive note, in sync with their Asian peers. The Asian markets gained on the back of reduced uncertainty over the modalities of Britain's exit from the European Union (Brexit). Global investors were also hopeful that international central banks might go in for major stimulus measures to protect growth as a result of Brexit. Further, higher global crude oil prices and a firm rupee enhanced investors' risk-taking appetite. The Indian rupee, too, appreciated. It strengthened by 16 paise to 67.52-53 against a US dollar from its previous close of 67.68-69 to a greenback. Besides, the government's decision on Wednesday to accept the 7th Pay Commission's recommendations and other key economic decisions supported prices. In addition, reports of a reduction in monsoon rains' deficit and increased chances of the GST (Goods and Services Tax) bill getting parliament's nod lifted prices. However, gains were capped as investors turned cautious due to the ongoing F&O (futures and options) expiry. "Reduction in monsoon deficit and short covering due to F&O expiry led the equity markets to make healthy gains in the day's trade," Anand James, Chief Market Strategist at Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services, told IANS. "Possibility of reduced uncertainty over the modalities of Brexit and latest economic decisions by the government also supported the rally." According to Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls, downside in USD/INR futures prices supported the firm trend in Nifty. "Banking sector stocks witnessed strong buying sentiments. In addition, most auto and textile sector stocks also witnessed good buying support," Desai said. Nitasha Shankar, Senior Vice President for Research with YES Securities, told IANS: "Strong bullish momentum continued to dominate taking the benchmark indices to their 2016 highs, making it four days of gain in a row." "Broader markets maintained their outperformance, as traders flocked to Midcap and Smallcap stocks." In terms of investments, the provisional data with exchanges showed that the foreign institutional investors (FIIs) purchased stocks worth Rs 1,107.42 crore, and the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) divested scrip worth Rs 190.76 crore. Sector-wise, the S&P BSE banking index augmented by 295.63, followed by the automobile index, which rose by 271.63 points; and the capital goods index gained by 177.85 points. Major Sensex gainers during Thursday's trade were Dr Reddy's Lab, up 3.38 per cent at Rs 3,383.50; NTPC, up 3.17 per cent at Rs 156.40; Axis Bank, up 3.11 per cent at Rs 533.45; Tata Motors, up 2.72 per cent at Rs 459.25; and Tata Steel, up 2.70 per cent at Rs 321.90. Major Sensex losers were Sun Pharmaceuticals, down 1 per cent at Rs 763.60 and Infosys, down 0.49 per cent at Rs 1,170.75.