Most emerging market stocks and currencies fell on Monday as resurgent concerns over China Evergrande weighed on investor sentiment, while Turkey’s lira headed towards a record low as inflation remained elevated.
The South African rand and the Russian rouble fell about 0.5% each, while MSCI’s index of emerging market stocks slipped 0.5%.
The US dollar was supported by safe-haven demand as reports said China’s second-largest property developer, Evergrande, was considering a $5 billion asset sale to fund its debt repayment.
A crackdown on debt has left Evergrande struggling to refinance its $305 billion in liabilities. Fears of contagion from a possible default coupled with a sluggish Chinese economy have rattled markets since last month.
The Hong Kong stock index, where Evergrande is listed, sank more than 2%. Most other Asian stocks and currencies also retreated.
Turkey’s lira fell 0.2% to 8.8722 against the dollar, staying close to its record low of 8.9557. Data showed Turkish consumer price inflation rose to 19.58% in September, its highest since March 2019.
While the reading came in slightly below expectations, it did little to dispel uncertainty over monetary policy after the central bank unexpectedly cut its benchmark rate last week. Analysts found the cut difficult to justify, given the elevated inflation and negative yields in the country.
“The annualized rates of inflation… are far above target, and should be no basis for cutting interest rates. But, that is nothing new in Turkey,” said Tatha Ghose, a FX and EM analyst at Commerzbank.
“The central bank of Turkey appears to be looking for any straws to comply with President Tayyip Erdogan’s demand for lower interest rates. We think that this monetary policy experiment will end badly in the medium-term.”
Russia’s rouble, which was among the day’s worst performers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, was pressured by a dip in oil prices ahead of a key OPEC+ meeting where the group will decide on increasing supply.
In central Europe, Hungary’s forint rose 0.3% to the euro and 0.5% to the dollar after the central bank flagged more interest rate hikes in the coming months to combat inflation.
The forint and regional peer Czech Republic’s crown have somewhat weathered recent market volatility after their respective central banks kicked off a rate hike cycle this year to offset a rise in inflation.
For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2021, see http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2021, see https://tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX
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(Reporting by Ambar Warrick; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)