Emerging markets stocks stumble on coronavirus fears, Turkish lira rebounds
INTERNATIONAL - Developing world stocks started the week on softer footing on Monday, as a sharp rise in the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in China kept a lid on buying, while Turkey’s lira found stability in measures taken by a banking watchdog.
The epidemic in China recorded a death toll of 97 on Sunday, the largest in a single day since the outbreak was detected in December. The fast-spreading virus has killed more than 900 people.
“Considerable uncertainty remains about when the virus outbreak will be brought under control,” Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, wrote in a note.
Haefele, however, remains optimistic about emerging market equities.
“The short-term impact on Chinese growth may prove to be significant, but it will also likely be temporary, with pent-up demand spurring a sharp recovery in growth from the Q1 setback,” he said.
MSCI’s index for emerging market equities fell 0.4%, coming from a 2.7% weekly gain.
China stocks ended the day higher, taking comfort from Beijing’s steps to support the economy as workers stepped back into offices after an extended Lunar New Year holiday.
Most emerging market currencies strengthened slightly versus the greenback.
Turkey’s lira rebounded below 6 against the dollar, after bank regulator BDDK cut the limit for Turkish banks’ forex swap, spot and forward transactions with foreign entities to 10% of a bank’s equity.
The currency had tumbled late on Friday to its weakest level since May after the Treasury minister suggested the central bank could continue cutting rates and as the Turkish military girded for more confrontation in Syria.
The Russian rouble bounced from two-month lows, rising 0.4%. Russia’s currency had fallen more than 1% on Friday after the central bank cut its key interest rate for the sixth consecutive month.
“Chances are that CBR (Central Bank of Russia) will cut again in April and June also, because it is difficult to envisage the inflation trend turning around between now and then,” Commerzbank analysts wrote in a note.
Currencies in Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic were nearly flat against the euro.