Mumbai: Indian equities are expected to trade higher on Thursday following the Union cabinet’s approval for the government’s mega divestment exercise.

The markets regulator’s push to tighten default disclosure norms will also boost sentiment.

Global shares, meanwhile, slipped on Thursday as a fresh row between Washington and Beijing over US bills on Hong Kong could complicate trade negotiations and delay a "phase one" deal that investors had initially hoped to be inked by now.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.16%, while Japan's Nikkei dropped 0.25%.

The US S&P500 futures dropped 0.2% in Asian trade, a day after MSCI's broadest gauge of world stocks fell 0.4% - the biggest fall since early October.

On the Wall Street, all three major indices fell, with the S&P 500 losing 0.38%.

The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed two bills intended to support protesters in Hong Kong and send a warning to China about human rights violations.

The legislation, which has angered Beijing, has been sent to the White House for US President Donald Trump to sign or veto amid delicate trade talks with Beijing. Trump is expected to sign the legislation, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. Even if he vetoes, that would be difficult to sustain given that the measures were passed by both the Republican-controlled Senate and Democrats-controlled House with almost no objections. Trump said on 11 October that a deal could take as long as five weeks, and investors had initially expected a deal by mid-November.

Back home, the capital market regulator has tightened disclosure norms for reporting loan defaults, a move that will help investors draw an informed conclusion about a firm’s financial health and prevent a sudden erosion of their wealth when such an event is discovered—as was the case in recent instances.

Any default in repayment of principal or interest to lenders by listed companies which continues beyond 30 days from the pre-agreed payment date will have to be disclosed to shareholders within 24 hours of such an event, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) said in a statement after a board meeting on Wednesday. The disclosure norms are effective 1 January.

The cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday cleared one of the government’s largest asset-sale exercises involving five companies, including the privatization of Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL) and Shipping Corp. of India (SCI).

The Union cabinet on Wednesday also gave beleaguered telecom operators Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd a breather by allowing them to defer payments for spectrum purchases by up to two years. The move to defer payments for 2020-21 and 2021-22 will be a relief to these companies while helping Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd as well.

Media baron Subhash Chandra’s cash-strapped Essel Group is set to see its stake plunge to around 5% in Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. The conglomerate said on Wednesday that it plans to sell an additional 16.5% stake in Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) to meet repayment obligations. The deal includes a 2.3% stake which is in the process of being sold.

The Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday superseded the board of Dewan Housing Finance Corp. Ltd (DHFL) and appointed an administrator in its place, in a step towards referring the debt-laden mortgage lender to a bankruptcy court.

Meanwhile, trade jitters sent the 10-year US Treasuries yield down to 1.747%, near its lowest levels in three weeks and down more than 20 basis points from a 7 November peak of 1.973%, a three-month high.

Similarly in the currency market, the yuan hit a three-week low of 7.05 per dollar in offshore trade on Wednesday and last stood at 7.045 yuan per dollar, down about 0.09% in early Asian trade.

The dollar slipped against the yen to 108.46, compared with this week's high of 109.07 touched on Monday, while safe-haven gold edged up 0.18% to $1,473.6 per ounce.

The euro was little changed at $1.1075.

The minutes from the Federal Reserve's previous policy meeting offered little guidance on what would cause policymakers to change their minds on the outlook after an increasingly divided Fed decided to hit pause in its easing cycle.

Oil prices held firm, having surged more than 2% on Wednesday after a better-than-expected US crude inventory report and as Russia said it would continue its cooperation with OPEC to keep the market balanced.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were down 0.18% at $56.91 per barrel in early Thursday trade.

(Reuters contributed to the story)

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