Emerging market shares largely fell on Tuesday as investors awaited outcomes from U.S.-China trade talks to be held in Washington this week. After news of progress in trade talks in Beijing last week had boosted stocks on Monday, investors are now keenly watching for headway from a new round of discussions between U.S. and Chinese officials.
With U.S. markets being closed overnight for President's day, "markets are more or less subdued and caught in range due to absence of catalyst and in anticipation of trade talk outcome in DC", said Christopher Wong, a senior FX Strategist at Maybank.
The MSCI index of emerging market shares slipped 0.2 per cent as Chinese blue chips retreated from last session's 3 per cent jump to close 0.2 per cent lower. The Shanghai Composite closed slightly higher. While most other Asian bourses fell, Indian shares gained 0.4 per cent each in a relief rally after a seven-session losing run.
Stock markets in Turkey fell 0.7 per cent, while those in Russia and South Africa were sluggish. A weaker dollar did little to support currencies of developing market economies which fell across the board.
The South African rand dipped 0.4 per cent as investors mulled the impact of the financial crisis at state power utility Eskom ahead of the national budget to be presented on Wednesday. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is set to announce a bailout for the firm during his budget speech on Wednesday. Eskom's debt of about 420 billion rand ($30 billion) is under government guarantee, a major risk to the country's sovereign credit rating.
The currencies of India and Pakistan slipped 0.2 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively, pressured by rising diplomatic tensions between the nations. India's top military commander in the disputed Kashmir region said on Tuesday Pakistan's main Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency was involved in an attack last week on a security convoy claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group.
Russia's rouble was supported by higher oil prices and month-end tax payments which usually prompt companies to convert their dollars to meet local duties. Nigeria's naira resumed its fall after a delay in the country's presidential elections had dented its stock, currency and bond markets in the last session.
(With inputs from agencies.)