EMERGING MARKETS-Currencies drop as dollar gains, U.S.-China tensions weigh
* U.S. blacklists dozens of Chinese firms
* South African rand biggest weekly gainer among EM currencies
* Russian central bank meet due at 1030 GMT
By Shashank Nayar
Dec 18 (Reuters) - Emerging market currencies fell on Friday as the dollar recovered slightly from a week-long beating, while escalating tensions between the United States and China offset optimism around talks of a record U.S. stimulus package.
The U.S. is expected to add around 80 additional companies and affiliates, mostly Chinese, including chipmaker SMIC 0981.HK , to a trade blacklist on Friday, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. basket of emerging market stocks .MSCIEF dropped 0.3% primarily led by weakness in mainland China stocks .SSEC .CSI300 , while those in Russia .IMOEX , South Africa .JTOPI and Poland .WIG20 lost between 0.7% and 1%. .SS
Tensions between two of the world's biggest economies have roiled markets for more than a year, which along with the COVID-19 pandemic, led to a slowdown in global economic growth.
The dollar was slightly off 2-1/2 year lows and an index of emerging market currencies .MIEM0000CUS fell 0.1% with Asian currencies and the Russian rouble RUB= leading declines. FRX/
Crude exporter Russia's rouble RUB= dropped 0.4%, ahead of a central bank meeting, as oil prices declined.
The central bank is expected keep interest rates unchanged as a sliding rouble has seen inflation exceed the target. O/R
"The prospect of unchanged rates is further strengthened by the fact that there will not be any rate meeting in January because of holidays - the next one is scheduled for February," said Commerzbank (DE: CBKG ) analyst Tatha Ghose.
"Hence, in case the rouble were to come under pressure in the interim, after CBR had already cut the rate, it would be too late before the CB could actively defend the exchange rate again."
The rouble was set to end the week lower, although most other emerging market currencies were on course to post weekly gains after talks of U.S. stimulus measures boosted sentiment.
COVID-19 infections in the U.S. hitting record highs pushed Congressional negotiators in Washington to scramble to agree on details of a $900 billion COVID-19 aid bill. Africa's rand ZAR= was among the biggest weekly winners, up around 3% in its seventh straight week of gains - longest streak since January 2018.
Most central European currencies dropped against the euro EUR= with Hungary's forint EURHUF= and Czech Koruna EURCZK= falling the most in early trade.
For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2020, see http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2020, see https://tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX
For TOP NEWS across emerging markets CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see CEE/
For TURKISH market report, see .IS
For RUSSIAN market report, see RU/RUB
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