Emerging markets end winning streak

Markets AP Asian Stock Market. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

London - Emerging market stocks ended a five-day winning streak on Tuesday as talk of more US rate hikes and a general drop in sentiment following bomb attacks in Brussels raised questions over the stamina of the recent EM rally.

MSCI's 23-country EM index dipped 0.5 percent as falls across most of Asia were followed by minor slips in Poland and the Czech Republic and in Russia and Nigeria as oil prices fell back.

Currencies were also feeling the pressure as talk about further US interest rises from some of the Federal Reserve's policymakers lifted the dollar to a one-week high.

Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said on Tuesday the central bank should consider another hike as early as next month, while Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said he expects at least two rate increases this year.

“The big question is will this emerging market rally continue and the fact is it is very hard to find a trigger,” said Credit Agricole emerging market strategist, Guillaume Tresca.

“We are seeing the glass as half full at the moment, we have the feeling we could see an improvement in momentum, flows returning into EM which then creates a virtuous circle.”

The day's dip in EM assets was not creating too many worries, coming after a red-hot last couple of months that have seen them surge 20 percent.

Hungarian stocks extended their recent bonanza after it became the first emerging market on Tuesday to follow the likes of the European Central Bank into the world of negative interest rates.

Turkey's Halkbank shares, meanwhile, added to an 8 percent loss they had suffered, falling another 3 percent after the arrest in the US of a businessman accused of transactions that violated sanctions on Iran.

Halkbank, whose then general manager was also accused but not charged in an earlier 2013 investigation, has denied any wrongdoing but there are fears the probe could be widened and drag the bank in.

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South Africa, where political wrangling and worries about a potential loss of its investment grade credit rating have been hurting markets, saw higher than expected inflation add to calls for its central bank to raise interest rates again.

“This will be very painful for an economy that is struggling to avoid recession,” Capital Economics' Africa analyst John Ashbourne said.

The rand recouped losses against the dollar after the data was released, trading at 15.2475 against the greenback from a session low of 15.2800, while stocks dropped 1 percent.

Nigeria's benchmark 20-year bond also came under pressure, with yields up 55 basis points to 12.7 percent according to traders, a day after the central bank unexpectedly hiked interest rate in a screeching change in policy direction.


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