* Lira slips 0.7% despite Fitch revising outlook to ‘stable’
* South African rand on course for worst day in six weeks
* Rising U.S. bond yields pivot from being drag on dollar – JPM
* China stocks down 3%, MSCIEF set for worst day in three weeks
By Susan Mathew
Feb 22 (Reuters) – Emerging-market stocks and currencies fell on Monday, pressured by rising bond yields, with Turkey’s lira slipping after five weeks of gains, while South Africa’s rand fell with eyes on the budget this week.
MSCI’s index of developing-market currencies fell 0.2% against the dollar, while its stocks counterpart lost 1.4% and was on course for its worst day in three weeks as China blue-chips slumped over 3% for their sharpest one-day decline in seven months.
U.S. bonds have been bruised by the prospect of a stronger economic recovery and greater borrowing as U.S. President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package progresses.
“Rising yields are passing thresholds where they will increasingly support the dollar and threaten high-beta FX” — more volatile currencies — said strategists at JPMorgan.
“The level and perhaps speed of the back-up in yields is now starting to challenge confidence in the reflationary tailwind to high-beta FX.”
Turkey’s lira fell 0.7% after gaining around 7% over the last five weeks. Fitch revised Turkey’s outlook to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’ on Friday, citing a more consistent and orthodox policy mix under a new leadership that has helped ease near-term external financing risks.
In South Africa, the rand looked to post its biggest one-day decline in six weeks as markets await Finance Minster Tito Mboweni’s budget speech on Wednesday for clues on the economy’s finances. Credit Suisse does not expect many new updates from the medium-term budget presented in November 2020.
“Most likely, investors will be reminded about structural shortfalls … Also, Finance Minister Mboweni will reiterate the previous message of inevitable spending cuts that may allow to return government debt trajectory back on track,” said CS analyst Alexey Pogorelov.
Even as oil prices rose, Russia’s rouble fell to its weakest level in two weeks, down 0.9%, extending losses to a fifth straight session.
European ministers are to meet on Monday to decide on sanctions on Russia over the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. Trading was expected to be subdued as many Russians take a long weekend before Tuesday’s holiday, when markets will be closed.
(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru;)
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