Indian stock-index futures swung between gains and losses after the benchmark index climbed to the highest level this month.

SGX CNX Nifty Index futures for February delivery fell less than 0.1 percent 6,094 at 9:56 a.m. in Singapore. The underlying CNX Nifty Index added 0.4 percent to 6,073.30 yesterday. The S&P BSE Sensex (SENSEX) gained 0.5 percent. The Bank of New York Mellon India ADR Index of U.S.-traded shares increased 1.5 percent.

The Sensex climbed to the highest level since Jan. 31 yesterday after the government lowered excise duty on cars and consumer durables, and said the fiscal deficit will narrow more than previously estimated. The country’s economy has been marred by slowing growth and the fastest retail inflation in Asia.

“The interim budget has alleviated market jitters by staying away from populist measures,” Anup Bagchi, chief executive officer at ICICI Securities Ltd., wrote in an e-mail yesterday.

India’s fiscal deficit will narrow to 4.1 percent of gross domestic product by March 31, 2015, compared with a 4.8 percent target, Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said yesterday, while presenting an interim budget before national elections due by May.

Duty Cut

Chidambaram yesterday proposed to cut the excise duty on small cars to 8 percent from 12 percent, and the tax on sports-utility vehicles to 24 percent from 30 percent. Industrywide local sales of passenger vehicles fell 5.7 percent in the nine months ended December, set for the biggest annual drop in a decade.

Chidambaram also cut the duty for consumer goods including washing machines, microwave ovens and DVD players.

The changes will boost the shares of automakers including Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. (MSIL) and Hero Motocorp Ltd. (HMCL), and white-goods makers such as Crompton Greaves Ltd. (CRG), according to research notes from Credit Suisse Group AG today.

The Sensex has retreated 3.3 percent this year and trades at 13.3 times projected 12-month earnings, compared with the average multiple of 14.4 over the past five years. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index is valued at 9.3 times.

Overseas funds bought a net $ 3.3 million of Indian shares on Feb. 14, paring the year’s outflows to $ 238 million, data compiled by Bloomberg show. They bought $ 20 billion last year, the most in Asia after Japan, data show.

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