EMERGING MARKETS-Stocks decline with Asian bourses leading losses, FX muted

Credit: REUTERS/FLORENCE LO

By 0917 GMT, MSCI's gauge for emerging market stocks .MSCIEF lost 0.8%, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng .HSI amongst the top decliners, closing 2.6% lower.

Sentiment remained dour after Chinese Premier Li Qiang, at the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, set the country's 2024 growth target at around 5%, a level similar to last year.

"The absence of any measures designed to bolster the economy in terms of stimulus was poorly received," Richard Hunter, head of markets at interactive investor said.

"The weakness in pockets of the economy, most notably the beleaguered property sector, (are) well-known and it increasingly appears that the authorities are content for natural economic growth to override any shorter term fiscal boosts to repair the economy."

In Europe, the Hungarian forint EURHUF= held its ground to trade at 396.08 per euro after a final estimate showed the economy narrowly avoided a contraction in the fourth quarter.

The forint has lagged regional peers, down close to 4% so far this year as its central bank has been ramping up its pace of rate cuts, citing falling inflation.

The Czech crown EURCZK= was marginally lower, down 0.2% against the euro after data showed average real wages fell by a larger than expected 1.2% year-on-year in the fourth quarter.

A broader gauge of EM currencies .MIEM00000CUS was down 0.1%, with Poland's zloty EURPLN= was flat at 4.3225 to the euro.

The country's central bank begins its two-day policy meeting on Tuesday, where it is expected to keep its main interest rate on hold at 5.75%.

South Africa's rand ZAR= weakened 0.2% against the dollar ahead of the release of the fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) reading.

Stocks in emerging Europe had a mixed start, with Poland's WIG 20 .WIG20 down 1.2%, while Turkish shares .XU100 rose 0.5%.

Global risk-on sentiment was also marred by remarks from Atlanta Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic, who on Monday said that the U.S. central bank is under given a "prospering" economy and job market.

Amongst headlining stocks in emerging markets, South Africa's Nedbank GroupNEDJ.J gained 3.5% after the lender recorded an 11% rise in its annual profit.

Meanwhile, in a boost for India's government debt market, Bloomberg said that it will include 34 Indian securities under the Fully Accessible Route (FAR) in its EM Local Currency Index, that represent 7.26% of a $6.18 trillion index on a market value weighted basis.

HIGHLIGHTS:

** BlackRock sees India, Indonesia as promising for investment opportunities

** China's services activity growth momentum softens in Feb, Caixin PMI shows

** South Africa business activity picks up in February, PMI survey shows

For TOP NEWS across emerging markets

For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see CEE/

For TURKISH market report, see .IS

For RUSSIAN market report, see RU/RUB

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2024 http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2024 https://tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX

(Reporting by Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

((Shashwat.Chauhan@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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