* Rouble down 2% this week on volatile oil
* China cuts bank reserve rate
* EM stocks set for worst week since early-May
* Chinese tech giants log large weekly losses (Adds details on Chinese rate cut)
By Ambar Warrick
July 9 (Reuters) – Most emerging market currencies were given some respite by a falling dollar on Friday, but were still set for weekly losses on concerns over China’s economic recovery and the fast-spreading Delta variant of COVID-19.
MSCI’s index of emerging market currencies traded flat after losing 0.8% since Monday’s close. The index is set to drop by 0.5% this week.
China’s central bank said it will cut the amount of cash needed to be held by banks as reserves, to shore up a slowing recovery in its first such move since April 2020, when the economy was under pressure from coronavirus.
While the move cast some doubts over China’s economic recovery, analysts questioned whether it implied an entirely dovish tilt by the central bank.
“I see it as more or less a fine tuning rather than a signal that there is more monetary easing coming,” Elwin de Groot, head of Macro Strategy at Rabobank, said.
China has led the charge in a post-COVID economic recovery since last year. But slowing growth could have ramifications for emerging markets that rely on it as an export destination.
Concerns over interest rate trimming in China had sent yields on 10-year sovereign bonds to a 11-month low on Thursday.
But as the central bank’s announcement came after Friday’s Chinese market close, it was difficult to gauge the reaction.
The MSCI index of emerging market stocks was unchanged on Friday, but was set to fall 2.9% this week as rising infections in Asia and a Chinese technology stock rout took their toll.
Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, the three largest Chinese tech companies, were set to lose between 6% to 10% this week on fears of more regulatory scrutiny, after a shock crackdown on ridesharing app Didi Global.
The dollar held just below three-month highs, having benefited from safe-haven demand this week as increasing fears of a slowdown in growth spurred a rush for safety. Yield differences between emerging market and developed world debt also widened.
Russia’s rouble, which rose about 0.5%, was set to be the worst performing currency in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region this week, after wild swings in the oil market on a breakdown in OPEC talks.
In central Europe, Hungary’s forint and the Czech crown bounced back from their respective two-month lows to the euro, while the Polish zloty was flat after the central bank held interest rates on Thursday, as expected.
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
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(Reporting by Ambar Warrick and Marc Jones; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Alexander Smith)
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