Indian shares may open higher on Friday as indicated by futures trade on Singapore Stock Exchange. That said, gains are likely to be capped in the wake of lackluster global cues and caution ahead of the Union Budget.

The benchmark indexes Sensex and Nifty fell about a percent each on Thursday as traders squared off their positions on the expiry of monthly derivative contracts and awaited cues from the Union Budget due to be unveiled on Saturday.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the Modi government’s first full-year budget for the fiscal year 2015/16, with expectations riding high that the government may deliver a wave of measures to put Asia’s third-largest economy on a path of 8-9 percent growth over the next two years.

Meanwhile, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who presented Thursday the first railway budget of the Narendra Modi government, has announced no new trains this year, for the first time in decades.

The Minister promised to modernize existing tracks and introduce faster trains while pushing for good customer experience, safety, technology development, revenue creation and investments in his maiden budget for the national transporter. He kept passenger fares unchanged but raised rates for carriage of some categories of freight.

Asian stocks are trading mixed, with Japanese shares posting modest gains despite a raft of weaker-than-expected data, while the benchmark indexes in Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan edged lower. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index is little changed while China’s Shanghai Composite index is moving up 0.4 percent. Energy stocks are coming under selling pressure after oil prices fell sharply overnight, pressured by rising inventories in the U.S.

U.S. stocks ended another lackluster session on a mixed note overnight, as oil prices retreated and investors digested a batch of mixed corporate earnings and economic reports.

Initial jobless claims rose by the most in roughly two years last week and inflation over the past 12 months turned negative for the first time since 2009, while orders for durable goods showed signs of revival in January after falling in previous months, separate reports showed. The Dow slipped 0.1 percent and the S&P 500 edged down 0.2 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.4 percent.

The European markets rose broadly on Thursday as chances of an earlier increase in U.S. interest rates receded and positive Eurozone economic confidence, German consumer confidence and labor market data brightened prospects of economic recovery. While France’s CAC 40 added 0.6 percent, the German DAX gained a percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 advanced 0.2 percent to close at record highs.

by RTT Staff Writer

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