EMERGING MARKETS-Stocks extend recovery, Turkish lira leads FX losses
MSCI's index of emerging market (EM) stocks rose 0.5%, moving further above a one-year low hit last week on concerns over the Omicron coronavirus variant. Turkish stocks led gains across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), while Russian stocks lost nearly 1%, tracking recent declines in oil prices.
Emerging market stocks extended a recovery from virus-driven losses on Thursday, while Turkey's lira lagged its peers, staying near record lows as President Tayyip Erdogan named a new finance minister. MSCI's index of emerging market (EM) stocks rose 0.5%, moving further above a one-year low hit last week on concerns over the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Turkish stocks led gains across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), while Russian stocks lost nearly 1%, tracking recent declines in oil prices. A recovery in most currencies appeared to have run out of steam, with MSCI's index of EM units down 0.1%. Safe havens such as the dollar and Japanese yen were favored as uncertainty over the virus persisted.
"The dollar may find some stabilization today ahead of tomorrow's nonfarm payrolls, although unpredictable developments about the new variant can rapidly shift momentum in either direction," ING FX strategist Francesco Pesole wrote in a note. Turkey's lira was the worst-performing EM currency on Thursday, down more than 1% in choppy trade to 13.5380 to the dollar, after hitting a record low of 13.8716 on Wednesday.
Erdogan named Nureddin Nebati as finance minister after the resignation of Lutfi Elvan, the last top official seen adhering to orthodox policy amid perceived government interference in the central bank. The lira has been in free-fall since last month, trading down about 81% this year after the central bank cut interest rates repeatedly despite Turkish inflation reaching nearly 20%.
Central bank intervention in currency markets on Wednesday did little to support the lira as Erdogan reaffirmed his determination to stick with steep rate cuts. "The only factor that can make interventions a success – a contemporaneous change in policy – clearly did not happen," wrote Ulrich Leuchtmann, Head of FX and Commodity Research at Commerzbank.
"The risk of a continuation of the depreciation crisis has risen. That is what happens when interventions fail: it then just gets worse." Turkish central bank Governor Sahap Kavcioglu told investors on Thursday that the effects of the recent policy easing will be felt in the first half of next year.
South Africa's rand rose 0.7%, leading gains across EMEA as it continued to recover from steep losses last week. However, concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant in the country persisted. Russia's rouble rose 0.2% but remained under pressure from geopolitical woes and a drop in oil prices. A recent spike in inflation saw investors penciling in a potential interest rate hike by the central bank in December. For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2021, see http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2021, see https://tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX
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