June 18, 2020 / 5:52 AM / 23 days ago

Indian stocks flat with border tensions, court hearing on telcos in focus

BENGALURU, June 18 (Reuters) - Indian shares were flat on Thursday ahead of a Supreme Court hearing over dues owed by telecom companies to the government, with rising Indo-China tensions and a spike in coronarvirus cases weighing on sentiment.

The NSE Nifty 50 index was up 0.15% at 9,897.85 by 0528 GMT, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.05% to 33,523.63.

“Many variables are playing at the moment and the development with China could be perceived as negative by external buyers,” said Rusmik Oza, head of fundamental research at Kotak Securities in Mumbai.

Shares of Bharti Airtel Ltd were up 0.4%, while those of Vodafone Idea Ltd were flat ahead of the hearing.

Meanwhile, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost as much as 1% as a spike in coronavirus infections in some U.S. states and China dampened hopes of a quick economic recovery.

In India, the number of coronavirus cases neared 377,000, while deaths rose over 12,200 on Thursday.

Ratings agency Fitch on Thursday revised the country’s outlook to negative and said the coronavirus pandemic significantly weakened India’s growth outlook.

India and China said they wanted peace but blamed each other after soldiers of the two sides savagely fought each other on their Himalayan border, killing at least 20 Indian troops. The clash has renewed calls from local Indian trader groups to shun Chinese products, with China’s Oppo cancelling the live online launch of its flagship smartphone in India on Wednesday. The Indian government will bar Chinese companies from providing any telecom equipment to state-run telecommunications companies and may also prohibit private mobile phone operators from using gear supplied by the likes of China’s Huawei and ZTE, according to a media report.

In Mumbai trading, public sector bank shares advanced with the Nifty PSU Bank index rising nearly 1%. (Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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