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EMERGING MARKETS-Currencies rise after Fed; Russian rouble slides on U.S. sanctions threats

PUBLISHED: Wed, 17 Mar 2021 20:04:32 GMT

* Dollar falls after Fed statement * Brazilian real rises ahead of c.bank decision * U.S. report shows Russian meddling in 2020 U.S. elections * Biden says Putin ‘will pay the price,’ rouble slides up to 1.5% (Adds comments, details; Updates prices throughout) By Shreyashi Sanyal March 17 (Reuters) – Most emerging market currencies edged higher against a weaker dollar on Wednesday, after the U.S. Federal Reserve pledged to keep interest rates near zero for years to come, while Russia’s rouble slumped on the risk of new sanctions against Moscow. The dollar fell after the U.S. central bank projected a rapid jump in U.S. economic growth and inflation this year as the COVID-19 crisis winds down. The Mexican peso and South Africa’s rand jumped over 1%, while the Brazilian real rose 0.6%. The MSCI’s index of EM currencies rose 0.1%, reversing declines from earlier in the session. “There was just a lot of anxiety which definitely pumped-up bond yields so far, but the Fed’s very dovish kind of response for a quite strong economic outlook is a big sigh of relief which we think could help maintain yields at current levels if not slow them down a little in the short term,” said Anthony Denier, chief executive officer of trading platform Webull. Riskier currencies such as those of emerging markets thrive on U.S. interest rates remaining low as they benefit from the interest rate differential that increases their appeal for carry trade. The rouble, however, slipped 1% at 73.64 against the greenback. “He will pay a price,” President Joe Biden told ABC News in an interview that aired on Wednesday. A U.S. intelligence report on Tuesday bolstered longstanding allegations that Putin directed efforts to swing the election to Donald Trump, and sources said sanctions on Russian could come as soon as next week. “The comments from Biden were a lot more aggressive than what markets were anticipating,” said Simon Harvey, FX analyst at Monex Europe, adding that the market now expects broad-based and more targeted economic sanctions towards domestic markets than previously imposed. The latest threat comes after the United States and European Union imposed sanctions, albeit limited, over the alleged poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. In Brazil, the country’s central bank later in the day is expected to hike interest rates for the first time in six years as inflation surges. The government on Wednesday sharply raised its inflation outlook for this year to 4.4% from 3.2%. “Policy normalisation will weigh on consumer confidence and the economic recovery, and will not be an ultimate fix for the real,” said Chris Shiells, managing analyst, emerging markets at Informa Global Markets. “Markets have already priced in at least a 50-bps hike and swap rates are looking at the chance of a 100-bps rate hike. Thus, there is a chance the central bank will disappoint markets if it fails to deliver at least 50 bps.” The real is among the worst-performing EM currencies year-to-date, down 8%, thanks to worries about fiscal spending, political interference and rising inflation. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1912 GMT; Stock indexes Latest Daily % change MSCI Emerging Markets 1348.14 -0.07 MSCI LatAm 2339.52 1.24 Brazil Bovespa 116319.33 2.02 Mexico IPC 47791.51 -0.86 Chile IPSA 4909.40 0.09 Argentina MerVal 49667.99 0.043 Colombia COLCAP 1346.97 -0.23 Currencies Latest Daily % change Brazil real 5.5830 0.58 Mexico peso 20.3520 1.32 Chile peso 721.9 0.69 Colombia peso 3569.25 -0.32 Peru sol 3.7028 -0.08 Argentina peso (interbank) 91.2000 -0.07 Argentina peso (parallel) 141 2.13 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 Susan Mathew and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Additiona reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Lisa Shumaker)

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