Business Maverick

Business Maverick

A Pivotal Week Confronts Emerging Markets as Traders Look to 2020

A shopping district at Eminonu of Istanbul,Turkey on Wednesday,Oct 09 , 2019.Photographer: Kerem Uzel/Bloomberg

It may come down to the will of central banks, trade negotiators and voters this week to set the tone for emerging markets headed toward 2020.

Traders are standing by for the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank’s last policy decisions of 2019. The central banks’ new forecasts will provide insight into their ability and willingness to provide further stimulus for a global economy that the IMF predicts will grow at the slowest annual pace in a decade.

“Emerging markets will clearly benefit from any mildly dovish tone which will boost risk assets and oil the wheels of the global carry trade,” said Paul Greer, a London-based money manager at Fidelity International, whose developing-nation debt fund has outperformed 95% of peers this year. The fund is bullish on emerging-market credit, local-currency debt and currencies, he said.

Emerging-market stocks and currencies rose for the first time in four weeks in the five days through Friday as a better-than-expected U.S. payrolls report gave the Fed more reason to hold interest rates steady after three straight cuts. Investor sentiment is likely to get another boost from the U.K. election, which could finally pave a more resolute course for an exit from the European Union, and the probability that the U.S. and China will close in on a phase one trade deal, according to NatWest Markets.

Read more: China’s Unexpected Export Drop Shows Why It Wants a Trade Deal

“If we do get a phase-one deal and a Brexit, the stage could be set for a decent first quarter for emerging markets,” said Abdul Kadir Hussain, head of fixed-income asset management at Dubai-based Arqaam Capital. Any disappointment could lead to “a very sharp negative reaction, especially given the time of year, when liquidity is starting to thin out,” he said.

As a reminder that growth in some developing economies remains sluggish, central banks in Turkey, Russia and Brazil will likely cut interest rates this week.

Developing-nation dollar bonds are headed for their best yearly performance since 2012, while stocks and currencies have held on to the bulk of this year’s gains even as the market remains hostage to the ups and downs of the trade talks. The U.S. side expects a phase one deal to be completed before the Dec. 15 deadline when new American tariffs on Chinese goods are scheduled to take effect, according to people familiar with the matter.

Cut, Cut, Cut

  • Turkey’s central bank is expected to deliver another big rate cut on Thursday, adding to the 10 percentage points of easing that Governor Murat Uysal has already overseen under his watch so far. The bank will probably slash rates by 150 basis points to 12.5%, according to economists’ median estimate. That would still leave Turkey with one of the highest real rates among its peers. Some economists predict a deeper cut to 12%
  • Russia’s central bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina will likely lower rates by 25 basis points to 6.25% on Friday, according to the majority of estimates in a Bloomberg survey. The central bank has reduced rates by a total of 125 basis points so far this year, returning rates to levels last seen before the Crimea crisis. The ruble has outperformed all of its emerging-market peers in the past three months
  • In Brazil, the central bank is expected to cut its key rate by half a percentage point on Wednesday, even after inflation picked up. The currency gained in the past week, rebounding from the record low it reached on Nov. 27. Peru, meantime, will probably keep its benchmark rate unchanged in on Thursday
  • Ukraine’s central bank will probably reduce rates by a percentage point to 14.5%. The currency’s world-beating performance this year is proving a concern for the country’s export-dependent economy
  • The Philippine central bank will probably hold its benchmark interest rate on Thursday, according to all of the economists surveyed by Bloomberg. That will likely help the peso to hold on to its spot as the best-performing Asian currency this quarter
  • Kazakhstan and Serbia will also likely keep interest rates unchanged on Monday and Thursday, respectively; Mozambique will also decide on policy on Thursday

Clues on Restructuring

  • President-elect Alberto Fernandez takes control of Argentina on Tuesday facing a massive debt burden, sluggish economy and citizens eager for social change. He finally named his cabinet on Friday, appointing Martin Guzman as economy minister amid expectations that economist Miguel Pesce will lead Argentina’s central bank
  • “This will be crucial for offering clues around what his policy objective will be and how they will tackle the likely sovereign debt restructuring next year,” said Greer at Fidelity
  • The peso is once again the world’s worst-performing currency in 2019, and dollar bonds have slipped to about 40 cents on the dollar. November inflation data to be released Thursday may show the economic picture worsened

Aramco Debut

  • Saudi Aramco, which raised $25.6 billion from the world’s biggest initial public offering, will begin trading on the Saudi stock exchange on Wednesday. The state-owned oil giant set the final price of its shares at 32 riyals ($8.53), valuing the world’s most profitable company at $1.7 trillion
  • Read more: The Prince Got His World-Beating IPO. Now Hard Work Begin

Economic Data

  • Investors will watch Mexico’s November inflation figures on Monday for clues on whether the central bank will cut rates yet again when policy makers meet later this month. The peso is the best-performing Latin American currency so far this quarter
  • Consumer inflation in South Africa probably remained at the lowest level in almost nine years in November, data may show on Wednesday. Low inflation and a third-quarter economic contraction gives the central bank room to cut interest rates when policy makers next meet in January, though interest-rate derivatives are only pricing in a one-in-four chance of a 25-basis-point reduction in the repo rate
  • China will report inflation and PPI data on Tuesday
  • Trade data is due this week from India, Taiwan and the Philippines as Asia, a trade-dependent region, struggles with faltering exports as the trade war endures
  • India, which unexpectedly held its key rate last week, will report inflation data on Thursday
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