EMERGING MARKETS-Pandemic panic pushes emerging stocks to 3-year low

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
EMERGING MARKETS-Pandemic panic pushes emerging stocks to 3-year low
Credit: © Reuters.

* MSCI EM index has lost 10.5% so far this week

* Philippine and Thai stocks drop 10%, lead losses in Asia

* Oil slide kicks Mexican peso to record low, rouble near 4-yr low

* ECB decision eyed

* China stocks outperform as number of new cases reduces

By Susan Mathew

March 12 (Reuters) - Emerging and developed stock markets tumbled on Thursday as a U.S. travel ban on Europe and investor disappointment over Washington's economic contingency plan exacerbated fears that the coronavirus pandemic would slam global growth.

In line with a plunge in U.S. Stock futures and European shares .STOXX , MSCI's index of emerging market shares .MSCIEF slid 4.3%, taking losses so far this week to 10.5% - its worst since September 2011. The index touched its lowest since January 2017. MKTS/GLOB .N .EU

U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sweeping restrictions on travel from Europe on Thursday to restrict the spread of the virus after the World Health Organization classified the outbreak as a pandemic for the first time on Wednesday. also unveiled economic steps to counter the virus, including instructing the Treasury Department to defer tax payments for entities hit by the virus, but the address was otherwise light on details.

That disappointed markets that had rallied after Trump promised "major steps" earlier this week to alleviate some of the strain from dwindling economic activity due to the virus.

Stocks in Thailand .SETI and Philippines .PSI sank 10% to their lowest since 2012 and led losses in Asia, while shares in Turkey .XU100 , South Africa .JTOPI and Russia .IMOEX lost between 4% and 5.6%.

In the middle East, rocked this week by an oil shock, Saudi Arabia's stock index .TASI dived 4%, while Dubai equities .DFMGI gave up 6.7%.

"There is fear that the virus spread in the U.S. and Europe cannot be contained and they might have to go for the same measures we're seeing in Italy," said Jakob Christensen, head of EM research at Danske Bank, referring to a lockdown imposed in the European nation. is something that is scaring investors as it would entail quite a significant disruption of growth and global value chains. Fears that Europe and U.S. will enter recession are dominating here."

Oil prices continued their slide, pushing currencies of crude exporters like the Russian rouble RUB= down 1.8% against a dollar in the doldrums, while the Mexican peso MXN=D4 plunged 2% to all-time lows. O/R

Keeping alive hopes of a coordinated move by central banks, the Bank of England on Wednesday cut rates and delivered a slew of economic measures. All eyes are now on the European Central Bank decision due later in the day.

While investors have fully priced in another aggressive cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve next week, analysts say one cannot preclude the idea of another emergency cut ahead of that.

Mainland Chinese shares .SSEC .CSI300 were among stocks that lost the least as the number of new coronavirus cases in the outbreak epicentre of Hubei reduced to single digits and more businesses reopened with local authorities cautiously easing strict containment measures. .SS

"Asia is now less absorbed in the problem and may as well be seen as a region of stability compared with U.S. and Europe. Asian currencies should be performing better over time," said Danske bank's Christensen.

"High beta currencies like Mexico's peso and the South African rand ZAR= might be hit quite hard," he said.

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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