Indian shares were largely unchanged on Thursday in lacklustre trading amid lingering concerns about global growth and ahead of key political events, though gains in market heavyweight Reliance Industries Ltd put the indexes in the green.
Investors in Asian peers tightened their purse strings as uncertainty over the partial U.S. government shutdown, slowing global economic growth and the yet-unresolved trade standoff between the United States and China kept the sentiment muted.
"Before the national election, markets are going to remain range-bound ... political risk is something foreign institutional investors will especially be wary about," said Sumit Pokharna, vice president, Kotak Securities.
The nation goes to the polls in May, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek a second term, months after the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party lost power in three states.
India's political scenario took a new turn with the main opposition Congress party chief inducting his charismatic sister to energise the campaign in its efforts to oust Prime Minister Modi.
"There is less participation in the market, as retail investors are wary now, having burnt their fingers in mid-caps which are hardly moving," added Pokharna.
The government is also due to present the crucial interim budget next week, which is expected to be full of measures aimed at appealing angry farmers and small businesses, in an attempt to increase job creation.
The broader NSE Nifty crept 0.22 percent higher to 10,854.4 as of 0520 GMT, while the benchmark BSE Sensex advanced 0.3 percent to 36,216.04.
Shares of oil-to-retail conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd, India's largest company by market value, climbed 2.2 percent to their highest since October 1.
The stock was the biggest boost to both the indexes.
Cigarette maker ITC Ltd rose 1.8 percent after a 4.3 percent drop on Wednesday following its quarterly results.
HDFC Bank Ltd eked out a 0.6 percent gain, while public-sector lender State Bank of India rose 1.1 percent.
InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, which owns IndiGo, India's biggest airline by market share, reversed course to climb 5 percent after it reported a rise in airfares over November and December following a year of declines.
Meanwhile, Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd slipped 1 percent, and Tata Motors Ltd fell for a sixth straight session, down 2.3 percent.