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EMERGING MARKETS-Stocks steady on Fed hopes, HK slumps after emergency powers invoked

Reuters | Updated: 04-10-2019 15:08 IST | Created: 04-10-2019 14:38 IST
EMERGING MARKETS-Stocks steady on Fed hopes, HK slumps after emergency powers invoked
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Emerging market stocks steadied on Friday as bets of a rate cut from the U.S. Federal Reserve increased after weak data readings raised doubts about the health of the world's top economy, while Hong Kong stocks slumped after emergency powers were invoked. MSCI's EM index rose 0.1% but headed for its third straight week of decline after weak data from major economies including the United States intensified global slowdown fears.

Focus now turns to U.S. jobs data later on Friday, which could make the case for a Fed rate cut stronger if it turns out to be another disappointment after dire manufacturing and services data earlier this week. "The Fed will need to cut rates, whether some members want to or not is another story," said Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader.

"Moreover, while this notion is buttressing risk assets like equities and oil, the current state of weak macro and relatively stable equity markets can't exist much longer." Tech stocks rose nearly 1% helped by Asian chipmakers after Apple raised its iPhone 11 production. But trading volumes were muted on account of a week-long holiday in mainland China.

Hong Kong shares fell 1% as the territory's government invoked colonial-era emergency powers for the first time in more than 50 years in a dramatic move intended to quell escalating violence in the Chinese-ruled city. Indian stocks reversed course to trade lower after the central bank cut interest rates for the fifth time this year as expected and also lowered its GDP growth forecast from 6.9% to 6.1%. The rupee barely budged.

"We expect further easing given the widening output gap and limited inflation pressures, though we think risks are skewed towards the next cut taking place in Q1 2020," said Mitul Kotecha, senior emerging markets strategist at TD Securities. Most developing currencies were on track to end the week lower, including the Russian rouble and Turkish lira , but South Korea's won was set to notch a 0.4% weekly gain.

Emerging European currencies fared better for the week, with Poland's zloty on track to end the week 1.4% higher, after a ruling on Swiss Franc mortgages by the European Union's top court gave banks plenty of time to absorb the potential compensation costs. For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2019, see http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2019.

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