* MSCI EM index down 2.8% at Jan 2016 lows
* Philippine stocks crash 13.3%; mark worst day ever
* S.Africa cenbank expected to lower rates by 50 bps
* Russian rouble recovers after plunge as oil rises
By Susan Mathew
March 19 (Reuters) - Emerging markets stocks racked up more losses on Thursday as central banks and governments struggled to calm fears of a deep global recession as the coronavirus shut down more economies.
Investors dumping financial assets in favour of hard cash have left all of the world's big market places looking for a floor. MSCI's index of emerging market stocks .MSCIEF gave up nearly 3% to touch their lowest since March 2016, following another rout on Wall Street on Wednesday. .N MKTS/GLOB
The EM index has so far lost almost 14% this week placing it on course for its worst week since 2008.
Philippine stocks .PSI crashed 13.3% in their worst day on record, following a two-day halt and most Asian stocks were deep in the red.
There were some signs of stability in Europe and Africa, spurred by early gains for battered western European markets, but analysts were sceptical it would hold. .EU
With investors only interested in holding dollars, currencies of most developing world economies weakened. FRX/
"The coronavirus pandemic has halted global growth and travel, and with it the demand for energy commodities," said UBS Global Wealth Management analyst Michael Bolliger.
"Compounding this is the potentially huge oversupply in the oil market following the breakup of the OPEC+ deal. All this has created a toxic cocktail for the oil price and the EM currencies linked to it."
Oil prices did gain back some ground overnight, giving crude producer Russia's rouble RUB= some breathing space. expect Russia's central bank to keep interest rates unchanged on Friday, although at least one analyst note on Thursday suggested the bank could yet be forced to hike to defend the rouble.
South Africa's ZAR= central bank meets later on Thursday and is expected to cut rates by half a point.
The meeting precedes a Moody's review next Friday which may see the country lose its last investment grade credit rating, although some believe the agency could hold fire till November to avoid adding to the current panic.
The rand ZAR= slipped 1%.
Turkey, whose central bank slashed rates by 100 basis points on Tuesday, launched $15 billion of support for the economy on Wednesday as retailers shut shops and President Tayyip Erdogan advised Turks not to leave home for three weeks. lira TRY= fell 0.5% to September 2018 lows.
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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