After remaining in a range round mood for the last two trading sessions, the Indian benchmark indices on Thursday opened with an upside gap owing to overnight FOMC minutes (Dec), which reveal a “less hawkish” stance from policymakers and thereafter extended their gains to close near the day’s high. On the domestic front, sentiments remained optimistic with the private report indicating that the government is expected to meet the fiscal deficit target of 3.5 per cent of GDP in the current financial year, despite the recent demonetisation move and potential delay in roll out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Fiscal deficit has been pegged at Rs 5.33 lakh crore, or 3.5 per cent of GDP, in 2016-17. Some backing also came with Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley restoring confidence that direct and indirect tax mop-up will surpass the Budget’s estimate of Rs 16.3 lakh crore by March-end. Jaitley had in his Budget for 2016-17 fiscal put gross tax revenue estimates at Rs 16.3 lakh crore, about 11 per cent higher than gross tax receipts of Rs 14.5 lakh crore for the previous fiscal. At the end of the day, the NSE’s 50-share broadly followed index Nifty, got strengthened by over a per cent to settle above the crucial 8,250 support level; while BSE’s Sensitive Index-Sensex added around two hundred and fifty points and closed above the psychological 26,850 mark.European markets finished in the mix on Thursday. The FTSE 100 gained 0.08 per cent; while the CAC 40 was higher by 0.03 per cent. The DAX was even.The Nasdaq Composite rebounded on Thursday to close at an all-time high, but losses in financials dragged the S&P lower by 500 points. Mixed labour-market data and poor numbers from retailers also put pressure on the main indexes a day before the closely watched December jobs report was to be announced. The Nasdaq Composite gained 10.93 points to 5,487.94. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 42.87 points at 19,899.29. The S&P 500 declined 1.75 points to 2,269.Asian equity markets are trading in the mix with the strength in the yen dragging Japanese equities lower. While Hang Seng is trading higher by 130.64 points to 22,587.33; and Shanghai Composite is trading up by 2.76 to 3,168.17.Indian equities are likely to extend their rally on Friday as indicated by SGX Nifty which is trading at 8,309.50 with gains of 19.50 points at 8:03 am.