The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Sensex climbed 0.14 percent or 23.04 points, Thursday, as market investors showed low appetite for risks, waiting warily for corporate results and central bank's monetary policy review next week.

The benchmark 30-share sensitivity index closed at at 16,721.08 points with 15 components gaining. The index touched an intraday high of 16,844.02 and a low of 16,668.60.

The index, which hit a record high of 21,206.77 on Jan. 10, is down about 17.6 percent this year.

The top performer of the day was Hindustan Unilever (HUL) which gained 3.12 percent to Rs.249.35.

IT stocks Infosys Technologies, Satyam Computer Services, Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) advanced 2.86 percent, 2.06 percent, 1.46 percent and 0.01 percent to Rs.1693.05, Rs.439.30, Rs.449.55 and Rs.889.95 respectively.

Among financial stocks, ICICI Bank, Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) and HDFC Bank surged 1.42 percent, 0.98 percent and 0.23 percent to Rs.876.40, Rs.2589.35 and Rs.1446.15 respectively.

Engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro and top listed Reliance Industries (RIL) soared 1.36 percent and 0.14 percent to Rs.2941.30 and Rs.2580.90 respectively. The two stocks contribute to almost a quarter of the weight of the main index.

Other gainers were Jaiprakash Associates (up 1.29 percent to Rs.246.45), BHEL (up 1.19 percent to Rs.1848.60), Tata Motors (up 0.54 percent to Rs.638.70), Ambuja Cements (up 0.17 percent to Rs.115.20) and Hindalco (up 0.08 percent to Rs.188.20).

The worst performer of the day was ACC which ended down 5.49 percent to Rs.798.10.

Telecom giants Reliance Communications and Bharti Airtel declined 2.89 percent and 0.16 percent to Rs.532.80 and Rs.844.20 respectively.

Energy majors Reliance Energy and NTPC fell 2.73 percent and 2.68 percent to Rs.1306.45 and Rs.190.55 respectively.

Real estate major DLF slipped 1.40 percent to Rs.674.75.

India's largest bank, the state-run State Bank of India declined 0.78 percent to Rs.1682.70.

Other stocks to end in the red were Tata Steel (down 2.65 percent at Rs.776.50), Maruti Suzuki (down 2 percent at Rs.745.95), Cipla (down 1.61 percent at Rs.226.15), ITC (down 1.16 percent at Rs.209.35), ONGC (down 1.04 percent at Rs.1032.30), Ranbaxy Laboratories (down 0.44 percent at Rs.475.30) and Grasim Industries (down 0.42 percent at Rs.2645.10).

Mahindra & Mahindra remained unchanged at Rs.630.05.

Among the sectoral indices, PSU and Metal were the worst performing counters, ending down 1.53 percent and 1.18 percent respectively. Except for IT (up 1.67 percent), FMCG (up 0.75 percent), TECk (up 0.44 percent), Consumer Goods (up 0.36 percent) and Bankex (up 0.35 percent), other counters ended in the red in a range of 0.80-0.07 percent.

The BSE Midcap and Smallcap indices fared poorly, ending down 0.88 percent and 0.67 percent at 7004.40 and 8741.01 respectively.

The BSE market breadth was overall negative as 1465 shares declined, 1266 shares advanced and 54 shares remained unchanged.

The broader 50-share S&P CNX Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) fell 0.46 percent or 22.95 points to 4,999.85. The index touched the day's high of 5,072.70 and a low of 4,991.35.

Investors are keeping away from taking fresh positions ahead of key results and the policy review, said Nikhil Thacker, vice president at Standard Chartered STCI Capital Markets.

Elsewhere in South Asia, Pakistan's Karachi 100 fell 1.1 percent to a two week low of 15,304.90 while Sri Lanka's Colombo All-Share declined 0.14 percent to 2,677.50. Bangladesh's Dhaka Stock Exchange gained 0.85 percent to 3079.35.

Asian markets were choppy in Asia on Thursday with major indices ending in the red. Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.28 percent to 13,540; Taiwan's Taiex dropped 0.20 percent to 8990.33; South Korea's Kospi fell 0.08 percent to 1799.34; Singapore's Straits Times lost 0.51 percent to 3177.55; and Indonesia's Jakarta Composite ended down 1.92 percent to 2269.98.

However, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.55 percent to 25,680.78; China's Shanghai Composite surged 9.29 percent to 3583.03; and Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur Composite gained 0.38 percent to 1293.08.