By Marc Jones
LONDON, Sept 26 – An two-month high for Chinese shares and talk of an IMF deal for Argentina helped steady the nerves in emerging markets on Wednesday, ahead of what is expected to be the year’s third hike in U.S. interest rates.
Poorer countries are highly sensitive to U.S. rate moves because they influence their borrowing costs too, especially if like this year, they strengthen the dollar and hit their own currencies.
China’s gains though had come as global index provider MSCI said it was considering quadrupling the weighting of top Chinese firms and peer FTSE Russell said it will start including them in its indexes this week too.
There was a similar move over the debt markets where JP Morgan added Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait to its $364 billion suite of EMBI Global Diversified (EMBI), EMBI Global (EMBIG) and EURO-EMBIG indexes.
Clearly the big event of the day though was the Fed’s rate hike and more importantly whether it signals they will keep going up.
The worry is that it will push up the cost of servicing the $3.7 trillion of dollar debt that the Bank of International Settlements now estimates is sloshing about in emerging economies.
“The question for markets, as ever, is “what next?”. The consensus still looks for the hike, pause, hike, pause rhythm to continue, which implies another rate hike in December,” said UBS Wealth Management chief economist Paul Donovan.
“However, the threat of economic damage from the trade tax increases does add uncertainty to this outlook.”
Turkey’s lira got a boost as President Tayyip Erdogan told Reuters that he respected the independence of the country’s central bank, despite the heavy criticism about his regular verbal interventions on it moves.
It was last at 6.11 per dollar, having rebounded from a 40 percent slump that had left it at over 7 per dollar just over a month ago.
NOT FOOTBALL BUT IT IS MESSY
Argentina, the other big loser in this year’s emerging market rout, was back in focus.
After meeting with the country’s President Mauricio Macri in New York, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the Fund was “close to the finishing line” for a new aid deal.
There was more collateral damage though.
Argentina’s central bank governor Luis Caputo unexpectedly resigned after just three months in the role. It came as a nationwide strike by unions in protest at runaway inflation and austerity shut down public transport and ports across Argentina.
The peso initially fell nearly 7 percent in response to the news, with trade thin due to the national strike. But it recovered some of the ground after the central bank intervened in the currency futures market, closing down three percent at 38.50 to the dollar.
“This resignation is due to personal reasons, with the conviction that a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund will reestablish confidence in the fiscal, financial, monetary and exchange rate situation,” the central bank said in a statement.
India’s rupee, which has been Asia’s worst performing currency this year, gained slightly too to 72.595 per dollar.
A new Reuters poll showed the country’s central bank is expected to raise its interest rates next week, though rising oil prices will continue to weigh.
Brent crude had hit a fresh four-year high overnight. Philippine finance minister Carlos Dominguez said on Tuesday the rise was also now his main worry although nearby trade war between China and the United States was a close second.
Societe Generale meanwhile laid out the extent of sell-off in emerging markets.
India has accounted for the bulk of bond outflows at around $8.3 billion since February, while Taiwan at $9.1 billion and Thailand and $6.3 billion have seen the most dramatic foreign selling of equities.
So far in September, there has been small foreigner selling of equities in India ($0.6bn), Indonesia ($0.1bn), Korea ($01.bn), Thailand ($0.2bn), South Africa ($0.9bn), and Turkey ($01.bn). But there was a decent amount of buying in Taiwan ($1.7bn).
On the bond side, the largest outflows in September are also in India at $1.1bn and $1.2bn flowing into Thailand, as well as Indonesia at $0.7bn.
For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2018, see http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2018, see https://tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX
For TOP NEWS across emerging markets
For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see
For TURKISH market report, see
For RUSSIAN market report, see)
(Reporting by Marc Jones, Editing by William Maclean)