News Column

Emerging markets lead global sell-off in Asia and Europe

January 28, 2014

Emerging markets led a global sell-off in risky assets on Monday as European stocks followed sharp falls in Asia and safe-haven assets such as the yen and gold rallied. Concerns about China's economic slowdown and its shadow banking sector, combined with expectations that the Federal Reserve will scale back its bond buying further, are piling pressure on emerging markets dependent on external financing. Political risks in Ukraine , Turkey and Thailand as well as a looming financial crisis in Argentina are compounding the problem of emerging markets in a week when the Fed is expected to cut its monthly bond purchases by another $10 billion . Emerging markets experienced a similar synchronised sell-off last May when the Fed initially suggested stimulus wind-down. But this time, local factors are playing a bigger role. MSCI world equity index fell 0.6 per cent to 394.15, its lowest level in more than a month, following Asia's decline of 1.6 per cent. China's shadow banking sector, a key source of financing for local corporates, is under the spotlight. A Chinese trust firm said it had reached an agreement to resolve a troubled high yield investment product, just days away from what could have been a precedent-setting default in China's shadow banking system. The Turkish lira, which has been leading the rout in emerging currencies amid a corruption scandal that has rocked Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government, hit a record low of 2.39 to the dollar before regaining some ground after the central bank said it would hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday. The benchmark emerging stock index hit a 4-1/2 month trough, falling 1.7 per cent on the day to be on track for the biggest one-day fall since August. Emerging stocks are the worst performing asset so far this year, with year-to-date losses of 5.2 per cent. US stock futures are pointing to a firmer open, however, after the S&P 500 index last week posted its worst week since June 2012 . European stocks are down 0.7 per cent. Banking stocks lost more than half a per cent. A German media report citing an OECD study that showed European banks have a combined capital shortfall of about 84 billion also hit sentiment. The yen hit a seven-week high of 101.77 per dollar while gold also rose to a two-month high above $1,278 an ounce.

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Source: Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates)

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