Indian shares inched higher on Wednesday as investor optimism was boosted by strong factory data out of China, offsetting fears of rising coronavirus cases, with Bharti Airtel Ltd leading small gains after a deal with Carlyle.

The NSE Nifty 50 index rose 0.25 per cent to 10,327.65 by 0350 GMT, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex was up 0.3 per cent at 35,019.67.

Broader Asian stocks struggled for traction as better than expected Chinese factory activity could not soothe persistent worries that a surge in coronavirus cases in the United States could hinder an economic recovery.

Cases in India jumped by more than 18,000 to 585,493 as of Wednesday morning, including 17,400 deaths, according to federal health ministry data.

Bharti Airtel topped gains in Mumbai, rising as much as 2.7 per cent after Carlyle said it will buy a 25 per cent stake in Bharti’s data centre arm for $235 million

Indian shares ended lower on the last day of its best quarter since 2009, led by losses in energy stocks, and ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation.

The Nifty settled down 0.1{b1ee4ac4d8d7b8e1af61a560a11ca52574b8103b547ccac8037ce0cdf9e7ba58} at 10,302.1 on Tuesday, while the benchmark Sensex slipped 0.13{b1ee4ac4d8d7b8e1af61a560a11ca52574b8103b547ccac8037ce0cdf9e7ba58} to 34,915.8 after rising around 0.8{b1ee4ac4d8d7b8e1af61a560a11ca52574b8103b547ccac8037ce0cdf9e7ba58} each during the session.

The Nifty closed the quarter about up 19.8{b1ee4ac4d8d7b8e1af61a560a11ca52574b8103b547ccac8037ce0cdf9e7ba58} and the Sensex 18.5{b1ee4ac4d8d7b8e1af61a560a11ca52574b8103b547ccac8037ce0cdf9e7ba58}, registering their best performances since the June quarter of 2009, after hitting a four-year low in March.

Both indexes are still down around 15{b1ee4ac4d8d7b8e1af61a560a11ca52574b8103b547ccac8037ce0cdf9e7ba58} for the first half of the year, as markets grappled with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the country’s already weak economy and more recently the border tensions with China.

European shares edged lower, oil fell and the MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 49 countries, was muted as markets took stock at the end of the first half of 2020.

Meanwhile, virus infections continued to surge in India, with total cases rising to 566,840 as of Tuesday morning, including 16,893 deaths, according to federal health ministry data, as several Indian cities prepared to extend their lockdowns.

“The Nifty will continue to trade in the 10,000-10,500 range as markets pull between fears over the virus-related lockdowns and a liquidity-driven recovery,” said Samrat Dasgupta, chief executive at Esquire Capital Investment Advisors.

Oil refiners Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd and Indian Oil Corp Ltd led the losses on the Nifty, falling 2.4{b1ee4ac4d8d7b8e1af61a560a11ca52574b8103b547ccac8037ce0cdf9e7ba58} and 2{b1ee4ac4d8d7b8e1af61a560a11ca52574b8103b547ccac8037ce0cdf9e7ba58}, respectively.

Miner Coal India slid 1.5{b1ee4ac4d8d7b8e1af61a560a11ca52574b8103b547ccac8037ce0cdf9e7ba58} and top lender HDFC Bank ended 1{b1ee4ac4d8d7b8e1af61a560a11ca52574b8103b547ccac8037ce0cdf9e7ba58} lower, while gains in Shree Cement and Maruti Suzuki India helped limit losses on the Nifty.

Prime Minister Modi started his address at 1600 hours local time (1030 GMT) on Tuesday, a day after the government announced a new set of guidelines to further ease restrictions.

India had on Monday banned 59, mostly Chinese, mobile apps including Bytedance’s TikTok and Tencent’s WeChat in its strongest move yet targeting China in the online space.

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