Bulls just managed to win the fight with bears on Friday as equity benchmarks closed marginally higher amid consolidation, continuing upside for fourth consecutive session. Banks, metals and select auto stocks along with positive global cues supported the market. The 30-share BSE Sensex rose 39.49 points to 24646.48 and the 50-share NSE Nifty advanced 9.75 points to 7485.35 after hitting an intraday high of 7505.90. The broader markets outperformed benchmarks with the BSE Midcap and Smallcap indices rising 1.1 percent and 0.75 percent, respectively. Four-day gains (more than 7 percent) helped equity benchmarks post biggest weekly gains (6.4 percent) in absolute terms since May 2009, aided majorly by banks. The rally was supported by government’s fiscal prudence in Union Budget, hopes of rate cut, new RBI capital rules and positive global cues. Bank Nifty surged more than 11 percent (in a week), the biggest weekly gain in absolute terms in 10 years. Dipen Shah of Kotak Securities says going forward markets will watch out for rate cut in immediate term. Post that, quarterly results, monsoons, implementation of Budget proposals and reforms will be the important triggers for the markets, he feels. Meanwhile, Election Commission announced polling dates for five states today, saying Assam elections will be held in two phases on April 4 & April 11. Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry polling will be held on May 16. West Bengal elections will take place in six phases, starting from April 4. Counting of all states will be done on May 19. Major global markets were in positive terrain with the Europe trading half a percent higher. Asian markets like Hang Seng, Nikkei and Shanghai gained 0.3-1 percent at close. Brent crude was up 0.4 percent at USD 37.21 a barrel (at 16 hours IST). Back home, banks took the lead among gainers today, up 1 percent. SBI rebounded sharply in late trade, up more than 3 percent, which was leading contributor to Sensex’s gains. HDFC and HDFC Bank also bounced back, up 0.4-0.7 percent. Rival ICICI Bank gained 1 percent. Tata Motors extended rally, rising 2 percent on top of 6 percent upside in previous session post strong JLR sales. Dr Reddy’s Labs and ONGC also gained further, up 1.7 percent each. State-run power equipment maker BHEL jumped 4 percent on commissioning of 700 MW thermal plant in Karnataka. Mahindra & Mahindra was up 0.2 percent as the company hiked vehicle prices by up to Rs 47,000 from April. Among others, Coal India, Cipla and Bajaj Auto gained 1-3 percent while profit booking was seen in Sun Pharma, TCS, Reliance Industries, L&T, ITC, Maruti Suzuki, Bharti Airtel and Wipro, down 0.5-1 percent. The market breadth was positive as about 1524 shares advanced against 1079 declining shares on Bombay Stock Exchange.