* Lira rises 1% after crashing to near record low
* Russian rouble leads declines as sanctions loom
* South African rand eases with eyes on U.S. Fed testimony
* Hungarian forint muted ahead of central bank meeting
By Sagarika Jaisinghani
March 23 (Reuters) – The Turkish lira found a floor on Tuesday after a historic 7.5% slump in the previous session following a central bank shake-up, while the Russian rouble hit a near seven-week low on looming U.S. sanctions against Moscow.
The lira was up about 1% at 7.7192 versus the dollar after falling close to its record low of 8.58 in the previous session as President Tayyip Erdogan replaced a hawkish central bank governor with a critic of high interest rates.
Monday’s decline erased most of the gains for the lira since November 2020, with investors fearing a reversal of recent interest rate hikes that had revived the currency amid concerns over Turkey’s falling forex reserves and high inflation levels.
“‘Greed and fear’ will remain the main short-term drivers for investors in Turkey,” said Yerlan Syzdykov, global head of emerging markets at Amundi, Europe’s largest asset manager with 1.7 trillion euro ($2 trillion) under management.
“What will determine investors’ risk appetite in the long run is the assessment of the capacity of the new economic team to maintain macroeconomic stability, delivering a transparent framework for monetary and fiscal policy.”
The broader MSCI index of emerging market currencies was flat by 0840 GMT as the dollar firmed ahead of testimonies from U.S. policymakers about their tolerance for a recent rise in bond yields.
The rouble was among the biggest decliners on the day, sliding 0.8% to its lowest since Feb. 5 as Russia braced for a new round of U.S. sanctions over what Washington says was its meddling in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, which Moscow denies.
In South Africa, the rand eased about 0.6% as the central bank kicks off a three-day policy meeting. The high-yielding currency has lost its appeal in the past few weeks as U.S. bond yields scaled one-year highs.
Currencies in central and eastern Europe were muted against the euro, while the Hungarian forint slipped about 0.1% ahead of a central bank meeting.
“Market focus rests on whether the bank signals its continued willingness to look through the high levels of inflation, even in view of the recent forint weakness,” said Thu Lan Nguyen, FX analyst at Commerzbank.
“If inflation were to remain high or even rise, things will get rough for the currency if the central bank continues to hesitate signalling a rise in key rates.”
Emerging market stocks fell about 0.6%, with Russian equities tracking lower oil prices. Turkey’s stock index fell 5.3%, bringing its overall two-day decline to more than 14%.
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 Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Karin Strohecker and Marc Jones in London Editing by Gareth Jones)
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