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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

-Emerging stocks bounce and currencies weaken ahead of Fed minutes

Emerging market stocks bounced yesterday after their biggest fall in nearly three weeks but currencies came under pressure ahead of Federal Reserve minutes while investors awaited the latest development on the Qatar crisis.

MSCI's emerging market index gained 0.3 per cent, lifted by gains in Asia where bourses recovered from losses sustained in the previous session as North Korea's latest missile test heightened the tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Stocks in mainland China and Hong Kong rose as much as 1 per cent, while bourses in South Korea and South Africa picked up about 0.5 per cent.

However, the picture looked different in the Gulf, where stock markets came under pressure ahead of a meeting later in the day in Cairo of the four Arab states that are boycotting it.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain were due to meet to decide whether to continue sanctions they imposed on Qatar on accusations it was aiding terrorism and courting regional rival Iran. Doha denies the charges and has submitted to mediator Kuwait replies to 13 demands that the gathering will consider.

Qatar's stock market index stayed near January 2016 lows, while Riyadh's bourse fell 0.4 per cent, extending the previous day's sharp fall.

"All eyes on the increasingly complex GCC backdrop," wrote Simon Quijano-Evans, emerging market strategist at Legal & General Investment Management in a note to clients.

"Moody's cut Qatar's outlook to negative – if this escalates, we would see plenty more negative ratings action across the whole of GCC, with Oman and Bahrain still the weakest links from a macro/FX reserves point of view," he added.

Easing commodity prices and crude oil falling more than 1 per cent because of another rise in Opec supplies weighed on currencies.

Russia's rouble sustained some of the biggest losses, weakening 1 per cent. South Africa's rand and Turkey's lira nearly matched those falls against a dollar struggling higher.

Adding to investors' woes were the minutes of the US Federal Reserve meeting, which will be scrutinised by investors for signs of more concern among policymakers about a downturn in inflation and activity in the United States.

A shift towards more hawkish language by several major central banks has dominated the past week and left markets unsure of how much longer emergency stimulus in Europe will continue to support global asset prices.

Reuters