Emerging market stocks, currencies jump on trade optimism - REUTERS

MARCH 15, 2019

* China shares lead EM equity gains

* Kospi pares gains on U.S-N.Korea nuclear talks suspension

* Russia’s rouble rises on higher oil prices and tax payments

* Turkish lira down after disappointing unemployment data

By Agamoni Ghosh

March 15 (Reuters) - Emerging market currencies and stocks rose on Friday, on track to end the week higher as investor sentiment lifted on reports that Beijing and Washington had made more progress in their trade talks.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He spoke by telephone with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, with the two sides making further substantive progress on trade talks, Xinhua news agency said on Friday.

The news comes a day after reports suggested that a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his counterpart Xi Jinping was delayed until April.

“We believe the discussion remains fluid but the risk of extending (trade talks)remains,” said Christopher Wong, a senior foreign exchange strategist at Maybank.

MSCI’s index for emerging market stocks neared its best levels since August 2018, with mainland Chinese shares leading gains on optimism over U.S.-China trade talks and after the government reiterated its commitment to boosting growth.

South Korea’s KOSPI share index rose as much as 1.2 percent but gave up some gains following reports that North Korea was considering suspending nuclear talks with the United States.

Stocks in Johannesburg rose 0.5 percent led by Anglogold Ashanti after data showed January’s mining sector output was marginally stronger than expected mainly due to higher gold output.

South African lender Standard Bank also rose after the company said it would cut around 1,200 jobs and close 91 branches as part of efforts to digitise its retail and business bank.

Russia’s MOEX index rose 0.4 percent on the day but was on track to record its sixth-straight weekly loss.

Most developing world currencies gained as the dollar weakened, with South Africa’s rand leading gains.

Russia’s rouble firmed, helped by month-end tax payments that usually prompt export-focused companies to convert their foreign currency to meet local liabilities.

The Turkish lira was the only major loser after data showed unemployment reached its highest level in nine years at a time when the country is on the brink of a recession.

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that structural reforms starting in April will strengthen the country’s economic rebalancing and Turkey will return to growth in the second quarter of the year.

In emerging Europe, the Czech crown was marginally lower against the euro after data showed industrial output fell by 1.1 percent year-on-year in January, partly due to base effect.


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