INTERNATIONAL - Emerging-market stocks fell for a fifth straight session on Thursday as fears of a global recession grew and most currencies struggled, although the South African rand and the Turkish lira gained.
The rand rose about 1% after reaching an 11-month low, weakened by the risk aversion that has hit global markets as the U.S.-China trade war continued.
The lira rose as much as 1.2% as local investors returning from a three-day holiday in Turkey. Data released on Thursday supported the move, showing unemployment fell to 12.8% in the April-June period and a primary surplus in July’s budget . Both currencies later weakened.
“It’s surprising these two currencies are rebounding so strongly. All I can say is people are trying to picking a bottom here,” said Paul Fage, senior emerging markets strategist at TD Securities, London.
“It’s generally true of EM currencies that it’s hard to have any strong conviction when the global situation is so volatile.”
The U.S. yield curve remained inverted for a second day after spurring a selloff in risky assets on Wednesday. An inverted curve is a signal the world’s biggest economy might be heading for recession as the U.S.-China trade war drags on.
Investors were also watching the turmoil in Hong Kong, where police and protesters faced off again, after U.S. President Donald Trump tied a U.S. trade deal with China to a humane resolution of the protests .
The territory’s Hang Seng index staged a reversal as mainland investors hunted for bargains. Chinese stocks also edged higher, lifted by real estate stocks, after a report showed new home prices rose in July, a bright spot in the slowing economy.
The MSCI index of developing-world stocks fell for the fifth day in a row, reaching a seven-month low. Taiwanese stocks fell about a percent. Turkey’s BIST 100 slid over 2%, led lower by banking shares.
Stock markets in South Korea, India, Poland and Romania were closed for local holidays.
The Mexican peso held steady before the central bank’s decision on interest rates. Analysts increasingly expect a rate cut to lift Mexico’s sluggish economy.