Emerging assets set for monthly loss; China liquidity fears weigh

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LONDON (Nov 30): Emerging stocks rose marginally on Wednesday but were headed for their biggest monthly fall since January, while currencies wilting under a fresh onslaught from the dollar were also set to close November with hefty losses.

Concerns were also growing about China, where a growing liquidity squeeze caused by Beijing's efforts to support the yuan is already spilling into global commodity markets.

The month has been a dramatic one for emerging markets, which have been battered by the US election win for Donald Trump on a protectionist, anti-immigration platform and by the resulting surge in the dollar and US yields.

MSCI's emerging equity index rose 0.3% thanks to oil's 2% surge before a crucial OPEC producers' meeting, but it has lost 5% in November. Asian shares rose to two-week highs but are in the red for the month.

In currencies, the Turkish lira and Mexican peso have lost around 8–9% versus the dollar for the biggest monthly falls since 2008 and 2012 respectively.

Most currencies were down marginally on Wednesday against the greenback as investors stayed on the sidelines before the OPEC meeting and Friday jobs data in the United States.

"The emerging currency universe is doing relatively well, correcting down just 0.3% on average. That could be the result of international investors taking a pause for now, waiting for more clarity on the global markets, including the oil one, and not rushing to build positions in risk assets," analysts at VTB Capital wrote.

The exception was the South African rand. It was pushed down almost 1% by the China concerns, which are leading to a sell-off on some metals markets.

The yuan rose slightly thanks to a third day of dollar sales by state banks but was set for its worst month since the August 2015 devaluation and is down 6% this year against the greenback.

But authorities' efforts to prop up the currency are sucking up bank liquidity and raising local borrowing costs. Overnight Shanghai Interbank Offered Rates (SHIBOR) rose for the 15th straight day to the highest since Sept 30.

If costs for Chinese investors rise further, it could threaten the months-long commodity rally that has helped underpin emerging markets this year. Coal, zinc and steel prices are already feeling the heat.

"Both longs and shorts are fleeing the commodities market," said Liu Xinwei, steel analyst at Sublime in Beijing. "Capital is flowing into risk-free products, as Treasury... yields increase."

Emerging market investors will get an indication of the sector's economic health from growth and trade data due in many countries. India, in the midst of a growth-crimping demonetisation experiment, will release GDP data that should show 7.5% growth in the September quarter.

Investors are also waiting to see if Brazil's economy shows green shoots after shrinking for six straight quarters but market volatility should restrict the central bank to a 25 basis point interest rate cut at its meeting later in the day.

Turkey and South Africa, two countries with big trade deficits, are to report third quarter trade data.