Indian shares ended a choppy session lower on Wednesday due to escalating border tensions with China and a spike in coronavirus cases at home and abroad.

The NSE Nifty 50 index ended 0.33% lower at 9,881.15, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex closed down 0.29% at 33,507.92.

All through the day, the domestic markets flitted between small gains and losses, with investor confidence taking a hit following the death of Indian soldiers along the China border.

The Indian army said late Tuesday that 20 of its soldiers were killed in clashes with Chinese troops at a disputed border site in the western Himalayas.

Broader Asian markets also took a cautious turn due to fresh cases of the coronavirus infections, with North Korea’s move to reject South’s offer of envoys and plan to send back troops to border adding to the geopolitical tensions.

“An escalation in border tensions between India and China and also between North Korea and South Korea on the global front is weighing on risk sentiment,” said Abhishek Goenka, founder and chief executive of IFA Global in Mumbai.

“While an all out armed conflict is not likely, imposition of economic or trade sanctions will be taken negatively by markets.”

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 deaths in India neared 12,000, with the number of infections surging to over 354,000. Globally too cases rose. It hit record highs in six U.S. states, while Beijing struggled to contain a fresh outbreak.

In Mumbai trading, Bharti Infratel Ltd slipped 4.49% and Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd closed down 2.29%.

Financial stocks remained under pressure with the Nifty PSU Bank index the Nifty Bank index closing 0.4% lower.

Media stocks, however, gained and the Nifty Media index closed 1.7% higher. Television show producer Balaji Telefilms surged 8.8%, its highest close since April 2019.

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