Stocks, currencies feel nerves as Trump inauguration nears

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LONDON (Jan 16): Emerging stocks registered their biggest daily fall in nearly a month on Monday and currencies broadly weakened with Turkey's lira falling again as investors showed nerves ahead of President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration.

MSCI's emerging stock index fell 0.7% with some heavyweight exchanges in Asia such as Hong Kong, Taiwan down around 1% while bourses in Russia and Poland slipped 0.5%.

Currencies fared little better. Turkey's lira led the falls against the dollar, weakening by 1.3% and extending losses since the start of the year to 6.3%.

The currency weakened despite the central bank effectively closing off two of its lira funding taps and forcing banks to use its "late liquidity window" in an effort to stem the falls while the government said it expected the central bank to act and volatility to fade.

"These tools potentially make what is already a convoluted monetary policy set up more complicated," said William Jackson, senior emerging market economist at Capital Economics, adding that the difficulty in gauging monetary policy stance had been a frequent concern for investors.

"There are fundamental reasons why the Turkish lira should weaken with US policy set to tighten and domestic political concerns... Also, it's an economy with an entrenched high wage growth, high inflation problem," he said, adding he expected the central bank to hike interest rates at a meeting on January 24.

Turkish assets have been roiled by worries over its big external financing needs, political reforms, a lacklustre economy and security threats.

South Africa's rand nearly matched the losses, weakening by more than 1% and chalking up the biggest daily fall in 10 days. Mexico's peso slipped 0.7%.

Across emerging Europe, currencies weakened against the euro. Serbia's dinar slipped 0.2% despite the central bank intervening once again to prop up the dinar.

And in eurobond issuance, Argentina started its investor roadshow, aiming to sell US$3–5 billion just nine months after it sold US$16.5 billion in its return to capital markets. Egypt is also meeting investors in what could be a bumper week for issuance from emerging market countries.

Meanwhile Mozambique said it would not pay the coupon due on Jan 18 for its 2023 eurobond citing its deteriorating economic and fiscal situation as the country is edging closer to default.