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MSCI index of emerging market stocks on track, South Africa's rand falls 0.5 per cent

Throughout October, fears of a slowdown in global growth, a trade dispute between the world's two largest economies and tightening liquidity conditions encouraged investors to dump risky emerging-market assets.


MSCI index of emerging market stocks on track, South Africa's rand falls 0.5 per cent
India's currency and bond markets came under pressure from reports that the central bank governor was considering quitting amid growing policy disagreements with the government. (Image Credit: Twitter)

Emerging stock markets gained at the end of a brutal month on Wednesday as stimulus hopes lifted Chinese shares, though a firm dollar and a plethora of uncertainties hit many currencies.

Throughout October, fears of a slowdown in global growth, a trade dispute between the world's two largest economies and tightening liquidity conditions encouraged investors to dump risky emerging-market assets.

The MSCI index of emerging market stocks is on track for a near-10 per cent loss in October, its biggest monthly tumble since May 2012 when eurozone woes and concerns over the health of the U.S. economy roiled global markets.

But Chinese stocks, among the biggest sufferers this year, gained on the day as the policymakers' pledge to improve market liquidity helped investors look past the weakest factory growth reading in two years.

The onshore yuan closed at 6.9734 per dollar, the weakest such close since May 20, 2008.

"Typically what happens in China when you see a kind of prolonged sell-off, you do see efficient intervention. Often it is state investment funds, pension funds being told to directly invest in the stock market, which provides a leg up for them," Gareth Leather, a senior economist at Capital Economics, said.

Gains were seen across most stock markets, with Taiwan's benchmark jumping nearly 3 per cent and South Korea's Kospi gaining 0.7 per cent. Russia's MOEX index gained 1.5 per cent, lifted by energy stocks.

However, currencies elsewhere were soft - South Africa's rand fell 0.5 per cent and Russia's rouble eased about 0.3 per cent.

Turkey's central bank sharply raised its 2018 inflation forecast to 23.5 per cent from 13.4 per cent and the governor said the bank would continue to use all available instruments to steer inflation down to its target.

Turkey's lira swung lower during the announcement before regaining some ground to trade 0.3 per cent lower.

Surging inflation and concerns about the independence of the central bank have battered the lira this year, but a bumper 625-basis point interest rate rise in September offered some relief to the currency, down about 31 per cent this year.

Other data out of Turkey showed rebalancing was well underway, with the September trade balance narrowing by more than 77 per cent and tourism revenues grinding higher in the third quarter.

"The improvement in the trade position is due to a complete slump in imports which suggests the economy is doing very poorly - the demand is very weak as a result of the higher inflation and higher interest rates," Capital Economics' Leather said.

"These are but encouraging moves by the fact that Turkey needs to resolve its external imbalances and I think a weaker lira should at least help in that."

India's currency and bond markets came under pressure from reports that the central bank governor was considering quitting amid growing policy disagreements with the government.

The rupee hit a two-week low, falling as much as 0.62 per cent before recovering some losses.

Most European emerging currencies made little moves against the euro, but Prague-listed stocks were up 1.3 per cent on the back of rising financial stocks, while Polish benchmark equities rose about 1 per cent to touch their highest in a week.

(With inputs from agencies.)


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