Indian benchmark indices got off to a flat to positive start on Thursday, after the Lok Sabha approved four legislations to give shape to the historic GST Bill.  Volatility was observed during the second half of the trading session, however, in the closing hours indices surged higher to close near day’s high. The Sensex and the Nifty advanced for the third day in a row. The Nifty settled at a record closing high.The majority of the European markets ended Thursday’s session with modest gains. The DAX of Germany climbed 0.44 per cent and the CAC 40 of France rose 0.41 per cent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. declined 0.06 per cent.The U.S. stocks ended on a positive note on Thursday as U.S economic growth surprised, being on the upside in the fourth quarter, at 2.1 per cent, along with better than expected data on personal consumption. The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 69 points at 20,728. The S&P 500 index gained 7 points at 2,368. The Nasdaq Composite index climbed 17 points to close at a record 5,914.Asian stocks are trading mixed. Japan’s Nikkei 225 advanced 125 points. Whereas, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is trading with losses of 120 points and the Shanghai Composite is trading flat. Activity in China’s manufacturing sector surprisingly expanded at the fastest pace in nearly 5 years in March, adding to indications that the world’s second-largest economy has gained force early this year, an official survey showed on Friday.At 8:18 am, SGX Nifty Index was trading lower by 11.50 points at 9183, indicating a flat to negative start for Indian equities.