India, Saudi pressured by politics, buck broader emerging market gains

 29 Sep 2016 - 12:31

India, Saudi pressured by politics, buck broader emerging market gains
File photo of Bombay Stock Exchange used for representation.

By Sujata Rao | Reuters

LONDON: Emerging stocks rose 0.6 percent on Thursday, led by energy-heavy Gulf and Russian bourses, though Saudi markets lagged and Indian assets sold off after New Delhi said it launched a strike on suspected militants based in Pakistan.

OPEC energy producers' unexpected decision to cap oil output spurred a 6 percent jump in crude futures on Wednesday, and while details of the cuts were sparse, MSCI's emerging equity index rose to six-day highs.

The Malaysian ringgit rose 0.4 percent to a one-week high, while the Russian rouble inched to the highest in almost two months against the dollar.

Russian rouble-denominated shares rose 1 percent while Gulf markets in Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi firmed 0.5-0.7 percent .

But Saudi stocks slipped 0.4 percent, failing to recoup recent losses that took them to eight-month lows after the government unveiled a raft of sweeping austerity measures.

The market was also rattled by a U.S. Congress vote to overturn a presidential veto of a law that would allow victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to sue Riyadh.

The riyal fell versus the dollar in forward markets, with one-year forwards touching two-month lows after the U.S. Congress overturned President Barack Obama's veto on legislation allowing 9-11 victims to sue the Saudi government.

Jason Tuvey, Middle East economist at Capital Economics, said the OPEC decision could lead to short-term market gains but was not "a game changer". Nor did he see the Saudi developments as sparking devaluation concerns.

"Fears about a Saudi devaluation have come down a lot in the past few months. The government seems to be going hard and fast on the austerity front so that's how they will adjust to lower oil prices," Tuvey said.

Indian stocks meanwhile fell as much as 2 percent at one point after New Delhi said it launched strikes on militants it suspects of preparing to infiltrate the part of Kashmir it controls. The Indian rupee fell almost 1
percent against the dollar.

Credit default swaps (CDS) for the State Bank of India, often used as a proxy for the sovereign -- did not move on the day though they have risen 15 basis points (bps) in the past two weeks to 158 bps, according to Markit.

Turkish markets stayed weak, with the lira down half a percent against the dollar and stocks falling 0.3 percent  as more signs emerged of economic stress. The tourism ministry said the number of foreigners visiting Turkey had dropped 38 percent in August on a year-on-year basis.

It was the fourth consecutive month that tourist numbers dropped more than 30 percent and raises fears for the country's current account deficit.

In South Africa too, the rand was half a percent weaker. Data showed credit growth slowing to a below-forecast 6.15 percent year-on-year in August, underscoring the stubborn slowdown in the economy.

Also in Africa, the Egyptian pound traded just off record lows hit on Wednesday in the six-month and three-month non-deliverable forward (NDF) market, as investors priced a devaluation linked to the likely approval of an International Monetary Fund bailout (IMF).

Polish stocks slipped a quarter percent as the ruling party tightened its grip on economic policy with a government reshuffle.

The Czech crown firmed in three-month forward markets against the euro ahead of a central bank meeting that could provide some clues as to when authorities could scrap the crown's exchange rate cap.

Markets are now looking ahead to the Mexican central bank meeting that is expected to deliver a 50 bps rate rise. The peso was 0.3 percent weaker, just off two-week highs.