BENGALURU, Feb 8 (Reuters) -

Indian shares opened higher on Thursday ahead of the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) monetary policy decision, where the central bank is expected to keep its key interest rate unchanged for a sixth consecutive meeting.

The NSE Nifty 50 index rose 0.36% to 22,009.65, while the S&P BSE Sensex was up 0.45% at 72,473.42, as of 9:15 a.m IST.

The RBI's rate decision will be announced at 10:00 a.m. IST.

A Reuters poll of 60 economists in early February indicated that the RBI would keep its key repo rate unchanged at 6.50% on Thursday and maintain status quo until at least July.

Investors are also waiting to see if the moderation in core inflation and focus on fiscal prudence in the interim budget would enable policymakers to signal a turn in the rate cycle.

"We expect the MPC (monetary policy committee) to unanimously vote for a (rate) pause and policy guidance to shift away from the current tightening bias towards one that is more neutral," analysts at Nomura said.

More importantly, the RBI is likely to introduce measures to address the current frictional liquidity tightness in the economy, they added.

The pause in rate hikes this fiscal year, following 250 basis points of hikes last fiscal, has propelled the benchmark Nifty 50 26.33% to fresh highs since the end of March 2023.

(Reporting by Bharath Rajeswaran in Bengaluru; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil, Varun H K and Sonia Cheema)