Stocks, FX slide on rising bond yields, dollar; Oil buoys Russian rouble

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Emerging market currencies hit three-month lows on Monday as the passage of a $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus by the U.S. Senate buoyed the dollar, while Russia’s rouble firmed as reports of an attack on Saudi Arabian facilities lifted oil prices.

Stocks in the developing world sank 1.5% to a two-month low as gains in U.S. Treasury yields and the U.S. stimulus package, which now awaits passage in the Democrat held House of Representatives, fanned inflation fears.

“It’s a constant push and pull at the moment between epic stimulus/liquidity and fears over rates and inflation,” said strategists at Deutsche Bank.

“Given this is all happening before most Western economies have even opened up (from coronavirus curbs), it’s highly likely we’ll be in this high volatility pattern for sometime.”

The EM equity index was pulled sharply lower by a 3.5% fall in China mainland stocks – their worst tumble in around eight months – with markets interpreting the modest above 6% growth target set by the government last week as a signal that policy makers would tighten conditions.

Data on Sunday showing China’s February exports grew at a record pace from a year earlier when COVID-19 battered the world’s second-biggest economy, while imports rose less sharply, had little impact.

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MSCI’s index of EM currencies slid 0.6% with commodity-rich South Africa’s rand touching it lowest since early January, while Turkey’s lira fell for the 10th session in 11, bringing losses over the that period to around 8%.

Oil importing economies such as Turkey and India suffer from rising oil prices. Brent crude futures surged above $70 per barrel for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Yemen’s Houthi forces fired drones and missiles at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry on Sunday, including a Saudi Aramco facility at Ras Tanura vital to petroleum exports, in what Riyadh called a failed assault on global energy security.

That could also pressure Saudi Arabia’s sovereign bonds and those issued by oil giant Aramco

Oil exporter Russia’s rouble, meanwhile, benefited, rising 0.2% to trade at 74.3 to the dollar.

“We prefer commodity producers’ currencies including the Australian dollar, the Russian rouble, the Canadian dollar and the Norwegian krone as they should all see support from the commodity rally that has further to run in our view,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management.

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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For RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru;)