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Emerging market stocks on the cusp of erasing 2024 losses

Tan KW
Publish date: Wed, 21 Feb 2024, 09:54 PM
Tan KW
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Emerging-market shares are poised to erase this year’s losses after their earlier slump wiped out more than US$1 trillion of market capitalization.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose as much as 0.7% Wednesday, putting it on course to close above the level of 1,023.74 set on the last trading day of 2023. Gains are being driven by technology shares and Indian large caps. The single biggest contributor was Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, which is on the verge of reclaiming a spot in the world’s 10 most valuable firms.

The recovery in developing-nation shares over the past month follows their worst start to a year since 2016 by the time of their mid-January low. While many of the concerns that drove that selloff remain - including a deflationary spiral in China and waning bets on Federal Reserve interest-rate cuts - they have been offset by a rush to buy shares linked to AI demand and confidence in India’s growth prospects.

“The January selloff pushed valuations in emerging markets to attractive levels, enticing bargain hunters,” said Manish Bhargava, a fund manager at Straits Investment Holdings in Singapore. Signs of recovery in China - a key driver of emerging-market growth - have also boosted investor confidence, he said.

Initiatives by Chinese officials, including a cut to banks’ reserve ratios and a reduction in loan prime rates, have helped stabilise market sentiment. Benchmark indexes of Chinese stocks are rising this month, but are yet to erase their 2024 losses.

Elsewhere, investors’ attention turns to South Africa’s pre-election budget presentation. Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana will table his annual budget on Wednesday as the government is facing pressure from investors to stabilize public debt and rein in spending.

The Israeli shekel extended its decline to a third day. The currency has weakened in recent days after data showed gross domestic product shrank an annualised 19.4% in the final three months of last year. 

Pakistan’s dollar bonds rose as two main family-controlled parties agreed to form a government. The country’s nine-month bailout programme from the International Monetary Fund expires in April.


  - Bloomberg


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