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Russian rouble, rand lead currency declines

Rand falls after consumer confidence plummets.
Image: Moneyweb

Emerging market currencies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa were pressured by a rise in demand for the dollar on Tuesday, as investors took a breather from stocks and other riskier investments after several days of gains.

The South African rand and the Russian rouble were among the biggest percentage losers against the dollar, with the latter sliding to a seven-week low as another spike in global coronavirus cases spurred fresh concerns about the pandemic’s economic fallout.

Russia’s finance ministry also said on Monday it would cut daily foreign currency sales in July, a tool it has been using to prop up the rouble while oil markets were weak.

Commerzbank analyst Tatha Ghose said oil revenues are likely to be much closer to ministry forecasts this month after falling far short in June.

“Indications so far are that the shortfall will narrow down substantially in July, after which we may expect the Central Bank of Russia’s FX sales to narrow further or end entirely,” she said.

Chinese stocks bucked the trend, with blue-chip stocks ending at a more than five-year peak, while the yuan held at a three and a half month high. Strong economic data, and signs of a surge in borrowing of cheap funds by investors, spurred a risk rally last week that extended into Monday.

While emerging markets have appreciated sharply over the past few months, uncertainty over the coronavirus has lent a cautious tone to the rally, with investors fearing a fresh sell-off on the heels of new lockdown measures.

The MSCI’s index of developing world stocks fell 0.6% from a more than four-month high, while currencies retreated after three days of gains.

South Africa’s rand was set for its worst day in nearly two weeks, while Johannesburg stocks also fell after a survey showed the country’s consumer confidence plunging to a 35-year low in the second quarter.

The pandemic is set to extract a heavy toll from South Africa’s economy, which was already in recession prior to the outbreak.

Central European stocks were weaker, while most currencies softened against the euro. The euro zone economy will drop deeper into recession this year and rebound less steeply in 2021 than previously thought, the European Commission forecast on Tuesday.

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