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Stocks break 4-day winning streak on virus fears

A slide in Chinese shares pushed an index of emerging markets stocks into the red for the first time in five days on Tuesday, with rising coronavirus cases denting sentiment across markets.

Chinese blue-chips fell more than 1%, taking MSCI’s index of emerging market shares 0.4% lower. Investors are also looking forward to U.S. jobs data that could sway the Federal Reserve’s policy outlook.

Virus fears resurfaced as a surge in cases in some parts of Asia and Africa among others spurred worries that measures to contain the spread could undermine global economic recovery. Morgan Stanley said EM stocks are 2% off its target.

S&P on Monday cut its growth forecasts for some of Asia’s top economies including India, the Philippines and Malaysia citing slow rollout of vaccines as the top risk for emerging markets. It could still take almost two years for EM Asia to be vaccinated to 70% herd immunity, the ratings agency said

South Africa’s rand fell 0.3%, heading towards early-May lows. The country tightened curbs over the weekend as the highly contagious Delta variant first identified in India added to its woes amid slow vaccination rollouts. Less than one adult in every hundred is fully vaccinated in the sub-Saharan region, compared to an average of over 30 in more advanced economies, according to the IMF. “The new restrictions could be a more extended delay to policy normalization, alongside a marginally weaker currency,” said Credit Suisse analysts in a note.

Russia’s rouble and bonds ticked up as investors priced in another rate hike next month after the central bank governor on Monday said a hike between 25-100 basis points was being considered. Analysts at Credit Suisse now expect a 100 bps hike to 6.50% in July.

This comes after a 50bps hike earlier this month and follows a slew of hawkish signals and some moves by many central banks across emerging markets to rein in inflation.

The rouble is yet to reach pre-pandemic levels and has underperformed oil prices too as geopolitics has weighed on the currency. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a local newspaper that while the U.S. hopes for more stable and profitable relations with Russia, Washington will respond if Moscow continues to “attack.”
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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