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August 9 (Reuters) – Emerging market currencies and equities made cautious moves on Friday, with Beijing stocks falling victim to another round of selling on fears about a U.S. ban on several Chinese technology companies.
Capping a torrid week for financial markets marked by worries China was using its currency to avenge U.S. tariffs and several central banks cutting rates more than anticipated, the MSCI’s index of developing world stocks was set to book a weekly loss of nearly 2%, its third straight week in the red.
Shanghai-listed shares closed down less than 1%, as shares of high-profile technology company fell after a Bloomberg report that Washington was delaying a decision about licenses for U.S. firms to restart trade with Huawei Technologies.
The Chinese yuan, which officials let fall past the key 7-per-dollar mark earlier this week, was last down 0.14%.
“We doubt that higher tariffs on Sept. 1 can be avoided. While this is likely mostly priced in, China will probably retaliate,” Citi analysts wrote in a note.
“And this is not fully priced, just because there are so many options of what China could do. We also doubt that China is going to stop letting CNY depreciate.”
However, other Asian heavyweights including South Korea’s Kospi and Taiwan’s main stocks index all rose more than a percent after being in the red most of this week.
Indian stocks also jumped on a report the government might exempt foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) from an increase in taxes.
Emerging currencies were tepid, with the Turkish lira, among the most resilient currencies in the past weeks, sliding 0.2% after data showed the country’s current account surplus reversed to a deficit of $548 million in June and was more than anticipated.
Investors looked past news earlier that Turkey’s central Bank had dismissed its chief economist Hakan Kara and some department managers, putting the lira on course for a second week of gain despite Friday’s losses.
Russia’s rouble was down 0.4% and the MOEX index dropped as aluminium giant Rusal’s shares slumped after it reported a 38% slump in its first-half net profit.
Ratings agency Fitch is due to announce a decision on Russia’s sovereign debt. After rating it at BBB- with a positive outlook since 2017, analysts doubt that Fitch will raise the rating now amid global trade wars and a sluggish Russian economy.
South Africa’s rand shed about 0.9% and was on track for a third week of losses.
“The rand has been heavily hit by a slew of bad news, mostly on Eskom and related government bailout,” Cristian Maggio, head of emerging markets strategy at TD Securities wrote in a note.
“This eventually translates into higher risks of a downgrade to junk by Moody’s…The next credit rating review is scheduled for Nov. 1. Until then, the government has time to announce measures to help market confidence.”
Investors will also be watching Argentina’s election primary on Sunday, which will determine President Mauricio Macri’s chances of winning a second term in October.
The country’s embattled peso, which has shed over 8% in the past month, is expected to take a fresh beating next week if the business-friendly Macri fares worse than expected.