August 23, 2013 / 2:14 AM / 4 years ago

Emerging market rout eases as data lifts growth hopes

6 Min Read

A man walks through the lobby of the London Stock Exchange August 5, 2011.Suzanne Plunkett

LONDON (Reuters) - The rout in emerging markets eased on Friday and world shares headed for a second day of gains, as data suggesting the global economy is improving took the edge off concerns about a cut in U.S. monetary stimulus.

Wall Street was expected to open little changed with the focus largely on housing data due at 10 a.m. ET after gains in the previous session gave the S&P 500 .SPX a chance to secure its first weekly rise in three weeks.

Ahead of the U.S. restart, Europe's main stock markets were broadly steady but attention remained firmly on Asia after a torrid week that has wiped billions of dollars off emerging markets for the second time in two months. <EMRG/FRX>

MSCI's emerging share index .MSCIEF was on track for its first gains after six sessions in the red and the selling of India's rupee subsided after the currency's worst week against the dollar in decades.

"Hopefully the worst (of the emerging market selling) may now be over," said Hans Peterson global head of asset allocation at SEB investment management, adding his firm may soon start "bottom fishing" in Asia.

"It doesn't seem to be a repeat of the 1997 (Asian crisis) situation ... and it seems like people are not so keen on being extremely short anymore so it might twist around a bit."

The relief rally was supported by a dip in U.S. bond yields, which edged back from the previous session's two-year high to 2.89 percent in European trading, while the dollar .DXY steadied after hitting a three-week high. <FRX/>

Actions from under-pressure authorities also helped.

Brazil unveiled an $60 billion currency intervention plan, Turkey's central bank said it would apply more monetary tightening while Indonesia scrapped a minerals export cap. <EMRG/FRX>

Yields Build

This week's market turbulence has been driven by growing evidence that the U.S. Federal Reserve is ready to start turning off the taps on its huge stimulus program, a conviction that is being bolstered by strengthening global data.

Germany confirmed on Friday that its economy grew at a muscular 0.7 percent in the second quarter, while there was more welcome news from Britain as it revised up its earlier Q2 number.

Purchasing managers surveys this week have already showed better-than-expected growth in the euro zone, a Chinese manufacturing rebound and U.S. manufacturing activity rising to a five-month high.

The week's earlier falls meant Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 was poised for its first weekly drop since June but the region has been a major outperformer recently.

The rebound in Asia left MSCI's global share index .MIWD00000PUS up 0.3 percent though it was not enough to prevent it heading for its third weekly fall on the spin.

Asia Crisis Ii?

U.S. Treasury yields tend to set the benchmark for borrowing costs across the globe, so the recent rise - which is expected to continue as the Fed winds down support- is making it more difficult for indebted countries and firms to pay their bills.

Data from Boston-based fund tracker EPFR Global on Thursday showed $1.3 billion fleeing emerging debt funds in the week ending August 21, the biggest outflow since mid-July.

Alvin Tan, an FX strategist for Societe Generale in London, said as advanced economies start to pick up, the return investors can get on their bonds and in their equity markets also increases, making emerging markets less attractive.

"We are seeing a stabilization (in emerging markets) because of a combination of better data and the lull in the selling but over the next few weeks we think the selloff still has some way to go."

"The better data from developed markets does not help them because the higher bond yields are here to stay," Tan said.

Other market experts also pointed to the fact that whereas May and June's sharp sell-off in EM markets calmed when the change in direction of U.S. market rates made shorting (betting against) EM assets unprofitable, this time that had not happened meaning the selling could run for longer.

Dollar Edges Higher

Despite the selloff in Asia, Singapore Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said that it would not be in anyone's interest for very low global interest rates to continue indefinitely, as this leads to financial imbalances.

"The tapering of QE and tightening of U.S. monetary policy, when it eventually occurs, will not be a bad thing for the region's economies," Tharman told a banking conference.

The dollar touched a near three-week high versus the yen, supported by the rising U.S. bond yields and as Tokyo shares rose after business surveys suggested the global economy was improving.

In commodities trading, copper prices were up 0.2 percent at $7,336 a ton, continuing to rise in the wake of Thursday's Chinese manufacturing data (PMI) that suggested demand from the world's second-biggest economy and top metals consumer could pick up.

Gold slipped slightly to $1,372 per ounce, heading for a small loss for the week. The precious metal was buoyed by the China PMI but at the same time pressured by upbeat global economic data and bets on Fed tapering.

Brent crude prices rose 0.3 percent to $110.29 a barrel. Rising political tensions in the Middle East and North Africa have bolstered oil prices this week, even as reports of some Libyan ports readying for exports eased supply concerns.

"We've got a much better global demand outlook and that's the medium- to long-term driver for oil prices," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.

Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa in Tokyo, Jungmin Jang in Seoul and Rachel Armstrong in Singapore; Editing by John Stonestreet and Susan Fenton and Ron Askew

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