The Indian benchmark indices got off to a robust start on the back of positive sentiments in the Asian markets. The indices maintained their early gains throughout the session and ended the session on an optimistic note. The market sentiments were also strengthened by a private survey, which indicates that Indian manufacturing sector has expanded marginally in February, as a rebound in export demand contributed to a stronger expansion of new orders. The Nikkei Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) — an indicator of manufacturing activity — increased to 50.7 in February, up from 50.4 in January, as output and order books rose at accelerated rates. The NSE’s 50-share broadly followed index Nifty, surged over half a per cent to settle above the crucial 8,900 support level; while Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensitive index-Sensex accumulated around two hundred and fifty points and closed above the psychological 28,900 mark.The European markets climbed throughout Wednesday’s session and ended the day with a significant gain. The DAX of Germany climbed 1.97 per cent and the CAC 40 of France rose 2.10 per cent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. gained 1.64 per cent.U.S. stocks ended Wednesday’s session on a new round of records. The Dow Jones Industrial Average broke through the 21,000 barrier, surging over 300 points to close at a record 21,116; and the S&P index rallied 32 points to close at a record 2,396.Asian stocks advanced after Wall Street set new records overnight on Fed rate hike hopes. Japan’s Nikkei 225 is leading with gains of 1.19 per cent, followed by Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, which gained 0.49 per cent and China’s Shanghai Composite trading flat.At 8:13 am, SGX Nifty index was trading higher at 9006, indicating a gap-up start for Indian equities.