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Emerging market stocks gain on China boost

Rand stretches gains.
Image: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Emerging market stocks returned to gains on Wednesday, recouping all its declines from the previous session boosted by China shares, while Turkey’s lira plunged towards record lows on fears of more rate cuts against surging inflationary pressures.

China’s blue-chip shares ended at their highest level in two months on hopes of recovery in demand following easing COVID-19 curbs in the biggest emerging market economy.

This added to a rally sparked by Wall Street overnight, lifting trading sentiment for riskier assets including emerging market stocks and currencies that have been pressured by bets of further interest rate hikes from developed economies.

“As mobility restrictions are lifted in major Chinese cities, we expect the pickup in economic activity to lend tailwinds to asset classes most closely linked to China’s recovery,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management.

The MSCI’s index for EM equities rose 1.2% by 10:55, touching its highest level in a week.

Currencies in the developing world were mixed, with Turkey’s lira down 2.4% as it falls for the third straight session after President Tayyip Erdogan’s pledge to keep cutting interest rates even as inflation surges.

The lira weakened as far as 17.1 to the dollar, close to a record low which it hit in late December in a currency crisis triggered by a series of unorthodox interest rate cuts.

“The CBRT needs to adopt a more orthodox monetary policy and hike interest rates to stop the lira’s fall,” said Per Hammarlund, chief emerging market strategist at SEB.

“Instead the finance ministry is likely to come up with another scheme to incentivize households and corporations to stop buying foreign currency by offering higher returns on their TRY accounts paid for by the government’s budget. Capital controls are a last resort but are looking increasingly likely.”

South Africa‘s rand edged 0.3% higher, carrying gains from the previous session after data showed better-than-expected growth of the economy in the first quarter.

Rand vs US dollar over a week

The Russian rouble headed towards 60 per dollar, despite Russia’s decision to ease some capital controls and expectations of an interest rate cut at an upcoming central bank meeting.

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