FX, stocks drop on inflation anxiety ahead of U.S. data

PUBLISHED: Wed, 12 May 2021 12:18:22 GMT
Shashank Nayar
Key Points
  •  Higher Treasury yields, dollar, weigh on EM currencies
  • EM stocks index weighed down by Asian heavyweights
  • Israeli shekel down as Gaza violence intensifies

May 12 (Reuters) – Emerging market currencies and stocks suffered on Wednesday as fears over rising price pressures fuelled bets on earlier interest rate hikes and underpinned the dollar and global yields ahead of U.S. inflation data.

MSCI’s index of emerging market currencies slipped 0.2%, falling for a second consecutive session, while stocks fell 0.6% to its lowest since late-March, as tech shares across the globe sold off.

Asian heavyweights were the biggest drag on the MSCI equity index, with Taiwan’s main index tumbling as much as 8.5% on a mix of tech woes and COVID fears before recovering some losses.

The dollar rose from a two-month trough, while U.S. Treasury yields gained on anticipation of the inflation reading at 1230 GMT.

A stronger-than-expected reading could see the Federal Reserve shortening its timeline to begin tapering policy, which would result in higher U.S. interest rates and pressure risk-driven assets. Global stock markets, particularly technology stocks, plummeted on this sentiment.

“The global stock sell-off has continued on fears that rampant commodity prices and higher inflation – driven by the recovery from the pandemic – will lead to higher rates around the world,” said Hasnain Malik in a note to clients.

Still, the Fed has exuded largely dovish signals due to weakness in the labour market, which weighed on the dollar and saw EM currencies scale record highs this week.

“Expectations are for strong advances in both the headline and core rates, which may raise speculation that the Fed should start normalizing its policy earlier,” said Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group.

“That said, with the U.S. employment report disappointing on Friday, it seems that Fed officials may not be in a rush to alter their policy any time soon.”

South Africa’s rand firmed 0.1%, hovering around a 16-month high against the dollar, as it continued to benefit from relatively higher interest rates, and strong gains in the prices of resources exported by the country.

Turkey’s lira was the biggest loser in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, falling 0.5%.

Losses in the Russian rouble were limited ahead of two OFZ treasury bond auctions, while the weakening global dollar and a slight revival in oil prices offered some support.

Most Central European currencies were subdued against the euro with Hungary’s forint and Polish zloty nearly unchanged, while the Czech crown dropped 0.2%.

Israel’s shekel dropped 0.2% after its worst loss in nearly four months on Tuesday, as hostilities between Israel and Hamas escalated with at least 35 killed in Gaza and five in Israel.

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

(Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; editing by Carmel Crimmins)

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