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Argentina Leads Emerging Markets Downturn

This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

Several emerging market currencies fell sharply on Thursday after Argentina’s central bank raised interest rates to 60%, representing a 15% hike and the highest level of any nation’s central bank.

This rate hike followed Wednesday's plea by Argentine President Mauricio Macri, in which he publicly asked the IMF to accelerate the rollout of its $50 billion emergency line of credit.

At time of writing, the Argentine peso has pared some of its intraday losses and is trading around 37.5 per USD, representing a roughly 10% fall.

“When [Macri] said he was going to go to the IMF to get the funds sooner, it sounded like a voice of desperation,” explained Bloomberg Macro Strategist Vincent Cignarella in a recent interview.

Furthermore, Cignarella explained that Argentina’s main problem is runaway inflation. As he says, “it’s been a situation in Argentina for as long as I can remember, in the 35 years I’ve been doing this, Argentina’s always had an inflation problem.”

Turkish Lira Issues

The peso started its exchange rate freefall earlier this month, as a broader concern about emerging market currencies was sparked by issues stemming from the Turkish lira.

The lira, which at the time of writing is down 3% on the day to roughly 6.65 per dollar, has had a very tumultuous month, facing issues ranging from Turkey’s high internal rate of inflation to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issuing a sharp warning to the nation’s central bank to avoid hiking interest rates.

Related: Argentina ETF Plunges After Central Bank Hikes Rates

There are signs that events in Turkey and now Argentina could be leading to a broader emerging market currency sell-off. Both the Brazilian real and South African rand are down almost 11% against the U.S. dollar this month, while the Indian rupee is down almost 4% this month.

As Eric Wong, a Fidelity fixed income portfolio manager, explains in a Wall Street Journal interview, “After what we saw happen in Turkey, the market started to ask what country was next: South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia … The market is still gripped at times by fear, trying to differentiate the good ones from the bad ones.”

Emerging market stocks also seem to be feeling the pressure. A broader emerging markets ETF, iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) is down 2% at the time of writing, while the iShares MSCI Argentina & Global Exposure ETF (AGT) , which focuses on companies with considerable exposure to Argentina, is down roughly 7% on the day. Similarly, iShares MSCI Turkey ETF (TUR) , which seeks to mirror a broad basket of Turkish companies, is down 4% on the day.

For more news and strategy on Emerging Markets, visit our Emerging Markets category.