* Chinese stocks surge over 1%, Q2 GDP misses expectations
* South African rand extends recovery into second day
* Russian rouble pressured by oil weakness
By Ambar Warrick
July 15 (Reuters) – Emerging market stocks jumped on Thursday as mixed Chinese growth data raised expectations of more liquidity measures in the country, while currencies edged up on dovish cues from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.
MSCI’s index of emerging market stocks rose 0.9% to 1,350.73 points- its highest level in nine days.
Chinese stocks, which make up a bulk of the emerging market index, surged more than 1% as investors anticipated further liquidity measures from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), after second-quarter economic growth rose slower than expected.
Alibaba and Tencent, the largest Chinese technology companies, rose about 2.8% and 1.7%, respectively.
The PBOC had last week cut reserve requirements for banks to release about 1 trillion yuan ($154.64 billion) in liquidity. But the move was interpreted as dovish by some, on the grounds that it indicated some slowing in a post-pandemic economic bounce.
Mitul Kotecha, chief EM Asia and Europe strategist at TD securities, said the reserve rate cut was a “targeted attempt to keep liquidity stable rather than a step towards policy easing.”
“We expect manufacturing activity to moderate further in the months ahead as trade slows, but services are likely to play catch up, especially retail spending, helping to mitigate the likely downturn in activity.”
The Chinese yuan rose 0.1%.
Russia’s rouble fell 0.3%, and was among the worst performers in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region as oil prices slid on reports that top OPEC producers had agreed to increase supply.
MSCI’s index of emerging market currencies edged 0.2% higher, as comments from Powell on Wednesday reassured investors that the Fed would keep policy loose for now, to shore up economic growth.
The prospect of low U.S. interest rates benefits high-yielding emerging market assets.
But gains were checked by increasing virus cases in Asia.
South Africa’s rand rose 0.4%, outpacing its peers in EMEA as it extended a recovery into a second straight session. Fears of escalating violence in the country had bought the rand to a three-month low.
In central Europe, Poland’s zloty sank 0.4% to the euro, as a dispute between the country and the European Union over local judicial reforms deepened.
The zloty has also lagged its peers, the Hungarian forint and the Czech crown, in recent sessions, as the central banks of the other two currencies began tightening policy.
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; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)
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