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EM-Stocks, FX flat ahead of central bank-heavy week; Turkey’s lira sinks

Among other EM currencies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Russia’s rouble fell 0.3%, while the South African rand rose 0.2%.
Image: Bloomberg

Most emerging market stocks and currencies were flat on Monday, as caution kicked in ahead of a slew of central bank meetings and economic data due this week.

Turkey’s lira severely underperformed its peers though, tumbling as much as 7% to a record low of 14.99 against the US dollar on expectations that the central bank will likely cut interest rates again on Thursday, despite inflation crossing the 20% mark.

The lira is the worst performing emerging market (EM) currency this year, losing around half its value as perceived government interference in the central bank, coupled with a slew of economic ructions, left investors averse to the currency.

Turkish stocks hit a record high of 2 082.40 on Monday, with investors viewing equity markets as a relatively safer way to maintain exposure to the country.

Turkey clocked a larger-than-expected current account surplus in October, while factory output rose more than expected.

Among other EM currencies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Russia’s rouble fell 0.3%, while the South African rand rose 0.2%.

MSCI’s index of EM stocks eased 0.1%, while the currencies index was largely unchanged.

Most EM central banks have been lifting interest rates this year to offset a jump in inflation as more economies lifted Covid-related lockdowns.

Investors are waiting for central bank meetings this week in Hungary, Chile, Indonesia, Taiwan, Mexico, Turkey, Russia, Colombia and the Philippines.

“The majority of central bankers will try to provide some forward guidance for the market. However, I would not be surprised if these efforts were only partially successful, Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of FX and commodity research at Commerzbank, wrote in a note.

“Everything might have to be corrected if the development of the pandemic and inflation surprise – which is not that unlikely.”

Focus is also firmlt on the US Federal Reserve’s final meeting this year, where the bank is expected to outline its plans for tapering stimulus and hiking interest rates next year.

Any early rate hikes by the Fed are likely to dent demand for risk-heavy assets, particularly in emerging markets.

The European Central Bank is also due to provide more details on its plans for phasing out pandemic-era stimulus.

In Central Europe, Hungary’s forint was flat to the euro, ahead of a central bank meeting on Tuesday. The bank was the first among its regional peers to hike this year, and is widely expected to raise rates further.

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