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EMERGING MARKETS-EMEA FX, stocks tick lower as Fed in focus

Ambar Warrick
·2 min read

* Russian stocks among few EMEA gainers

* Hungarian forint drops after c.bank holds rates

* MSCI EM stocks index down 0.5%

By Ambar Warrick

Jan 27 (Reuters) - Most emerging market stocks and currencies fell slightly on Wednesday as investors awaited more cues on U.S. monetary policy from the Federal Reserve, while Russian stocks rose after Moscow lifted some COVID-19 curbs.

Turkey's lira and South Africa's rand dropped about 0.3% and 0.2% respectively to the dollar, with investors expecting the U.S. central bank to hold interest rates and reaffirm its dovish outlook.

Most other currencies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa kept to tight ranges, as investors were uncertain over the Fed's stance in the face of more fiscal spending in the United States.

The dollar was on the back foot ahead of the Fed's announcement, while U.S. yields also retreated.

"A Fed ready to do whatever it takes to support the world’s largest economy, regardless what the government’s actions may be, is likely to prove negative for the USD ... a dovish message could reignite the risk-on trade," Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group, wrote in a note.

The prospect of easy monetary policy has greatly benefited emerging market stocks, which have outperformed their developed world peers since late-last year.

The MSCI's index of emerging market stocks fell 0.5% on Wednesday, having recently hit a record high.

Russia's rouble was flat to the dollar after modest gains on Tuesday. Russian stocks rose 0.2% after Moscow relaxed an overnight curfew and restrictions on the number of employees working from offices.

Investors are also anticipating Russian unemployment and December GDP data this week.

Rising coronavirus cases and a slower-than-expected vaccine rollout have hurt emerging market currencies in recent sessions, offsetting optimism over an eventual economic recovery this year.

In central Europe, Hungary's forint lagged its peers against the euro after the country's central bank left interest rates unchanged.

Most central European stocks rose slightly.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2021, see http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2021, 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 Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru. Editing by Mark Potter)