Indian shares opened higher on Friday with the benchmark Nifty 50 hitting a fresh record high, ahead of the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) monetary policy decision, where the bank is expected to stand pat on key rates for a fifth consecutive time.

The NSE Nifty 50 index added 0.33% to an all-time high of 20,970 points, while the S&P BSE Sensex was up 0.27% to 69,713.72 as of 9:26 a.m. IST.

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

A Reuters poll of 64 economists in early December showed that the RBI would maintain its key repo rate at 6.50% on Friday.

"We expect the RBI to remain on cautious hold," said Rahul Bajoria, managing director and head of emerging markets Asia (ex-China) Economics at Barclays.

The absence of rate hikes in the current fiscal year, following a 250 basis points increase in fiscal 2023, has propelled the benchmark Nifty 50 by 20.40% since March, hitting record highs.

(Reporting by Bharath Rajeswaran in Bengaluru; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Dhanya Ann Thoppil)