London - Emerging market stocks were set for their biggest weekly rise in nine months on Friday as calm in Crimea and reports that China would fast track infrastructure spending helped repair some of the damage of a turbulent few months.
The MSCI index of emerging shares climbed for its sixth straight session to the highest in almost three months as it fought to avoid its worst start to a year since the financial crisis erupted in 2008.
Although geopolitical tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine continue to create uncertainty, there was fresh evidence that beaten down emerging market assets were starting to tempt back investors.
Figures from EPRF showed the recent rushing tide of outflows from emerging market equity funds had all but ceased globally and were even moving in the other direction again in parts of Europe and Latin America.
“Are we close to the bloom phase for global emerging markets? We are definitely getting there, but not quite yet,” said Societe Generale's Benoit Anne, who cited a SocGen survey showing 70 percent of its clients were now “bullish” on EM.
Russian stocks added 0.6 percent as they headed for their second successive week of gains, while Turkish and Hungarian share markets were both on a tear.
Istanbul was up 2 percent and heading for a weekly rise of almost 6 percent on hopes that weekend local elections will bring stability.
Budapest jumped 1.1 percent after S&P removed the threat of a downgrade from Hungary's sovereign rating.
It has been a bruising few months for many EM assets, as political unrest in countries such as Ukraine, Turkey and Thailand has exacerbated longer-held worries about US stimulus withdrawal and a slowdown in China's giant economy.
While shares in Beijing inched lower on Friday, sentiment was given a boost as China's Premier Li Keqiang sought to reassure jittery global investors that Beijing was ready to support the Asian giant's cooling economy.
“We have gathered experience from successfully battling the economic downturn last year and we have policies in store to counter economic volatility for this year,” Li said.
In bond markets, Ukraine's dollar debt made further small progress in the wake of this week's pledge from the International Monetary Fund of a $14-$18 standby loan, while Russian bonds were little changed.
Among emerging currencies, the likelihood of IMF demands pushed Ukraine's hryvnia back to its all-time low against the dollar.
The rouble sagged for a third day though it remained well above its recent record trough.
A slightly firmer dollar was limiting the upward room for manoeuvre but emerging currencies including the yuan rose in Asia on speculation over China's economic stimulus.
For the week, the Indian rupee led gains among regional currencies as stocks in Mumbai also hit their fifth consecutive record high.
The moves come on hopes of an improvement in the country's economic and monetary policies.
The rupee has risen 1.4 percent against the dollar, which would be its largest weekly rise since early December.
“Generally in EM markets we are getting towards a situation where we are seeing a much greater differentiation on currencies,” said Rabobank emerging market economist Christian Lawrence.
“We have certainly seen a turnaround in sentiment in the last couple of weeks but personally I still think it is a case of buying on dips.” - Reuters