Indian shares rise ahead of federal budget

BENGALURU, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Indian shares rose on Wednesday ahead of the Union budget, which will be closely vetted by investors for government measures to aid the long-term growth of the economy with a global slowdown in the vicinity.

The Nifty 50 index (.NSEI) rose 0.66% to 17,777, while the S&P BSE Sensex (.BSESN) rose 0.7% to 59,963.63 as of 09:15 a.m. IST. Both benchmarks fell over 2% in January, their second straight monthly loss.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union budget at 11:00 a.m. IST, in which the Indian government will likely seek to lower its fiscal deficit, while offering incentives for investment to taxpayers.

This is the last full-year budget before the national elections in 2024 and key state elections later this year.

All eyes will be on the budget, which could determine the trajectory of growth, and also the direction of interest rates given the borrowing programme that will be announced, said Lakshmi Iyer, chief executive-investment advisory, Kotak Investment Advisors.

India has pegged its economic growth at 6-6.8% in the 2023/24 fiscal year, the slowest in three years, at its pre-budget economic survey released on Tuesday.

Traders will also watch the budget for incentives to bring back foreign investors, who have piled out of the market.

Foreign institutional investors have sold 288.52 billion Indian rupees ($3.53 billion) worth of shares on a net basis in 2023 so far, according to official data.

Reporting by Bharath Rajeswaran and Nallur Sethruaman in Bengaluru; editing by Eileen Soreng

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