India's GIFT Nifty was trading at 21,948 as of 8:01 a.m. IST, indicating that the NSE Nifty 50 will open near its Wednesday close of 21,951.15.

However, the Nifty and BSE Sensex are on track for weekly declines, having shed about 1.2% this week after two weeks of gains.

Small- and mid-cap stocks will be in focus after the country's mutual fund industry body asked members to moderate flows into small- and mid-cap funds and protect investors from large outflows.

The Association of Mutual Funds in India's request followed a communication from the country's market regulator asking fund houses to provide more information about risks associated with such funds.

The broader, more domestically-focussed indexes have dropped about 2% and 2.5% in the week so far, underperforming the benchmarks.

Asian markets were off to a muted start, while Wall Street equities logged losses overnight.

Investors await the core personal consumption expenditures price index (PCE), due after closing bell, for clues on the timing of the U.S. Federal Reserve's first rate cut. [MKTS/GLOB]

Domestic data, also due after closing bell, is expected to show India's growth likely moderated to 6.6% year-on-year in the October-December quarter.

Foreign investors net sold shares worth 18.79 billion rupees (~ $227 million) on Wednesday, while domestic institutional investors bought shares worth 18.27 billion rupees.

Among individual stocks, Reliance Industries will be in focus after the company and Walt Disney announced the merger of their India television and streaming media assets, creating a $8.5 billion entertainment entity.


** UPL, Shriram Finance: National Stock Exchange decided to replace UPL with Shriram Finance in its Nifty 50 index, effective on March 28.

** Coal India: Company signed joint venture agreement with Bharat Heavy Electricals to undertake coal to chemicals business.

** PB Fintech: Company's unit received registration certificate from insurance regulator to act as composite insurance broker.

** ICICI Securities: Markets regulator issued administrative warning in connection with inspection of books and records for merchant banking activities of the company

($1 = 82.8930 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Bharath Rajeswaran in Bengaluru; Editing by Varun H K)