London - South African stocks edged up and other markets were unshaken by the death of Nelson Mandela, the country's first democratically elected president, while broader emerging shares were stable as traders waited for US payroll data later on Friday.
Mandela, a symbol of racial reconciliation and political compromise, died at 95 late on Thursday from a recurring lung illness, worrying some that simmering social tensions may threaten Africa's largest economy.
But his death has had little impact so far.
The cost of insuring against a South African default fell four basis points to 217 basis points in the five-year credit default swap market, according to Markit.
Johannesburg's main stock index, which stopped trading for five minutes in remembrance, was up half a point, while the South African rand edged off Thursday's 4-1/2 year lows.
“We have seen a bit of rand weakness, but it doesn't have much to do with Mandela's death,” said Abbas Ameli-Renani, an emerging markets strategist at RBS.
The main emerging equities index was down slightly, as traders wait for the release of non-farm payroll data from the United States, which could provide another hint as to the strength of the US economy.
The US Federal Reserve Bank has said it will begin to taper its monetary stimulus - which has fuelled investment in emerging markets - when indicators show a robust recovery.
“We have a bit of general emerging market weakness this morning, there is a bit of squaring of positions ahead of payrolls,” Ameli-Renani said.
Analysts, citing data from fund tracker EPFR, said emerging market equity outflows have been seen for six consecutive weeks, as traders position themselves for the end of the year and possible Fed tapering.
Chinese equities, which make up about 20 percent of the MSCI emerging stocks index, were down nearly half a percent, while Russian stocks were up one percent after reaching nearly three-month lows in the previous session.
EPFR data also showed inflows to fixed income assets in emerging markets this week, only the second time in the last 28 weeks, analysts said.
In Ukraine, protesters pressed the largest political protests in nearly a decade over the government's rejection of a landmark trade deal with the European Union, despite police saying they faced a “harsh” crackdown.
Investors are concerned that Ukraine's dwindling currency reserves will make it hard to repay its dollar debts.
The state and companies will struggle to repay $7 billion of debt maturing next year, while doubts are growing as to how long the central bank's meagre reserves can stave off a currency collapse.
In a sign that markets may have priced in enough of Ukraine's recent instability, 5-year CDS fell 13 bps to 1,074 bps.
But analysts warned against taking too optimistic a view on Ukraine.
“The near-term pressure point is not sovereign debt service, but the balance of payments,” Timothy Ash, the head of emerging markets strategy at Standard Bank, said in a client note.
“We think that default risk is being seriously under-estimated.” - Reuters