Turkey’s lira led losses across emerging markets in Europe, Middle East and Africa on Friday, and was set for its worst month since the 2018 crisis, weighed by rising coronavirus cases and uncertainty over the U.S. presidential election.
The lira dropped 0.6%. The currency has been plumbing record lows every day this week as the central bank unexpectedly held lending rates, despite elevated inflation levels in the country.
Geopolitical tensions in the Caucasus and the eastern Mediterranean also exacerbated the lira’s decline, putting it on course to lose 7.9% to the dollar in October, its worst monthly decline since the height of the 2018 economic crisis.
Meanwhile, data showed Turkey’s trade deficit almost tripled in September, while foreign visitor arrivals more than halved in the month, indicating further pain for the lira.
Russia’s rouble fell 0.2% to the dollar, pressured by investors pricing in a possible downside from Democratic candidate Joe Biden winning the U.S. election on Tuesday, which could result in more sanctions against Moscow.
Weakness in oil prices, spiking coronavirus cases and a month-end deadline for local exporters to convert foreign currency also weighed on the rouble and put it on pace to shed 2.2% against the dollar in October.
EMEA stocks were all lower, while the MSCI’s index of emerging market stocks fell 1.1%. Still, the index was set to post monthly gains thanks to strength in some Asian heavyweight companies.
However, with a fresh wave of coronavirus-driven lockdowns in Germany and France, and jitters ahead of the U.S. elections, the outlook for emerging markets was constrained in the near-term.
“The results of the U.S. elections next week may provide some broader signals as to whether the ‘reflation trade’ in EM has run its course or further gains may lie ahead,” said Christian Keller, global head of economics research at Barclays.
The Czech crown was muted, shrugging off data showing better-than-expected third-quarter economic growth.
In Asia, Taiwan’s preliminary third-quarter GDP beat forecasts, while Hong Kong’s third-quarter GDP fell 3.4% from last year.
Their currencies were both flat against the dollar. Markets are also watching for third-quarter GDP data from the European Union due later in the day.
Elsewhere, Sri Lankan government bonds were set for large weekly declines amid increasing scrutiny from the United States over the country's economic relationship with China.
(Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Karin Strohecker; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)