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Wobble or Wipe Out? Emerging Markets Look to Rediscover Balance

Netty Ismail, Lilian Karunungan and Sydney Maki
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Wobble or Wipe Out? Emerging Markets Look to Rediscover Balance

(Bloomberg) -- The emerging-market rally wasn’t so unstoppable after all.

Though nobody was betting that June wouldn’t produce its own trials and turns at some point, the manner of last week’s retreat in risk assets has left investors trying to decipher whether it’s a sign of things to come or just an opportunity to reflect on the strides taken so far.

The MSCI Inc.’s emerging-markets stocks index dropped 2.3% on Monday, extending last week’s decline of 1.6%. The equity index now looks to have failed in its attempt to hold meaningfully above the 200-day average, after rising above it last week for the first time in three months. A similar gauge of currencies slipped 0.4% on Monday as of 11 a.m. in New York.

“We would liken the nascent market rally to a baby just learning to walk, confident in his or her abilities, but cognizant of the potential dangers lurking around every corner,” said Todd Schubert, Singapore-based head of fixed-income research at Bank of Singapore Ltd.

The dangers remain manifold, from the possibility that a second wave of coronavirus infections could derail the global recovery to an escalation of U.S.-China tensions in the runup to America’s November presidential election. A warning by the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the weekend that the next action will come from the army has added to investors’ caution.

Underscoring those anxieties, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s measure of implied volatility for emerging-market currencies rose last week for the first time in more than a month.

Listen: EM Weekly Podcast: Second-Wave Fears; China Data; Rate Decisions

Investors will turn to central-bank decisions this week for clues on the next phase, with the average yield on developing-nation currency bonds still close to an all-time low. Policy makers in Indonesia, Russia and Brazil are predicted to cut interest rates to bolster their economies, eroding real yields.

Economic data will also serve as a guide on the progress of the global recovery. China’s industrial production and retail sales numbers released Monday both missed forecasts, while Indonesia said exports tumbled more in May than the median estimate by economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

More Easing

Bank Indonesia will cut its policy rate for the third time this year, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists. The authority has held its seven-day reverse repurchase rate at 4.5% in the last two meetingsStill, there’s a chance BI will stay on hold after risk aversion returned to global markets last week amid the resurgence of coronavirus cases in the U.S., prompting Bank Indonesia to intervene in the spot foreign-exchange marketThe rupiah has rallied from a 22-year low in March“Even as the recent uptick in fund flows and the gain in rupiah have been heartening, the reality is that the need to anchor such gains remain crucial,” wrote Wellian Wiranto, an economist in Singapore at OCBC, which expects BI to keep its policy unchanged

As shock waves from the coronavirus pandemic and the collapse in oil prices ripple through its economy, Russia’s central bank is expected to cut its key policy rate on Friday. The only question is by how much

The Bank of Russia saw scope for another 100 basis points of easing after April’s half-point reduction. Yet economists surveyed by Bloomberg are split as to whether the central bank will go all the way in June or save some ammunition for July. The median forecast is for a reduction of 75 basis pointsBrazil’s central bank will probably reduce its key rate by 75 basis points on Wednesday as the South American nation reels from the economic impact of Covid-19, according to Bloomberg Economics. Investors will also watch April retail sales data on Tuesday for an insight into the pandemic’s reachThe real has been the top performer in emerging markets in the past month. Overseas investors have been trimming short positions in the currency and selling dollars in the local derivatives market since May 14, when the central bank increased its intervention after the real slid to a recordTaiwan’s monetary authority will likely stand pat as the island has been able to contain the Covid-19 outbreak better than its peers, according to Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. The central bank lowered its discount rate by 25 basis points to 1.125% at the last quarterly meeting in March. Governor Yang Chin-long said in May there was still room to lower the key rate, but it would take into consideration the actions of other central banks around the worldPoland’s central bank will probably leave its policy rate unchanged on Tuesday after last month’s surprise cut. The National Bank of Poland reduced its benchmark rate to a record-low 0.1% from 0.5% on May 28, following 1 percentage point of cuts in March and AprilThe monetary authority in Chile is expected to hold rates steady on Tuesday, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Santiago is entering its second month in total lockdown while other areas of the country are being added to the quarantine measures as the daily tally of new cases and deaths reach record highsThe peso has been the best performing Latin American currency after Brazil’s this month

Argentina, Honduras

Argentina moved a deadline for creditors to accept a $65 billion debt restructuring proposal to Friday, June 19 -- the fourth extension as the groups edge toward a deal. Economy Minister Martin Guzman said the nation will improve its offer one last time during an interview with Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico. Argentina will also release budget balance figures for May, which could provide clues on the cost of lockdowns to contain the virusHonduras may sell a benchmark-sized dollar bond after holding investor calls last week

Economic Data

India’s trade fared slightly better in May than a month earlier as restrictions to contain the coronavirus pandemic were eased and parts of the global economy reopened, data show. The rupee is the biggest loser in the past three months among emerging Asian currenciesThe Philippines is due to release last month’s balance of payments on Friday. This will give further evidence whether the peso’s rally in recent months is justified. The BOP surplus widened to more-than-a-year high in AprilTaiwan will report its export orders in May on Saturday, an advanced indicator of global demand for its shipments especially in electronics. Orders have been recovering since MarchTurkey’s central government budget deficit narrowed to 17.3 billion liras in May. In April, the government ran one of its widest deficits on record as the coronavirus outbreak paralyzed economic activity, while spending jumped and tax deferrals chipped away at government revenueRattled by measures that made it more difficult for international investors to bet against the lira, foreign funds have more than halved their holdings of Turkish government bonds this yearUruguay is expected to post first-quarter gross domestic product figures, which will flag the early impact of Covid-19 on the South American economy

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