* Turkish inflation in focus after Erdogan pushes to lower rates
* S.African rand extends losses after record unemployment in Q1
* MSCI EM stocks index breaks six-day winning streak
June 2 (Reuters) - Turkey’s lira slumped to a fresh record low on Wednesday after President Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his call for interest rate cuts, and along with weakness in some Asian peers pulled an index of emerging market currencies off record highs.
With the dollar clinging to small overnight gains on upbeat U.S. manufacturing data, MSCI’s emerging market currency index dipped 0.2%, snapping an eight-day run of gains. Traders are now awaiting U.S. non-farm payrolls on Friday.
South Africa’s rand extended losses by 0.4% after data on Tuesday showed unemployment in the first quarter hit all-time highs. Higher oil prices lifted Russia’s rouble, putting it on course for its best session in three weeks.
Digital currencies will be the future of financial systems in Russia, the country’s central bank governor, Elvira Nabiullina, told CNBC.
The lira was down around 0.6%, after having hit a low of 8.88 after Erdogan said he had spoken to the central bank governor about cutting rates. The comments raise the stakes ahead of calls later in the day between central bank leaders and investors to discuss policy and economic prospects.
“Thursday’s inflation data will now prove even more important to FX markets, given the increased political pressure to lower rates at a time when markets are skeptical that the central bank would raise rates to begin with should inflation overshoot,” said Ima Sammani, an FX analyst at Monex Europe.
“At present, there is no necessity for rates to be lower as President Erdogan has given the central bank until August to promote the disinflationary channel, but the comments themselves will naturally cause jitters in FX markets.”
Turkey’s lira is one of the worst performing emerging market currencies this year, down around 13% against the dollar and the euro, as government actions have raised questions about the central bank’s autonomy. Erdogan has replaced four central bankers in the last two months, with the ouster of hawkish chief Naci Agbal in March dealing a severe blow.
The run of recent gains for emerging market stocks also came to an end on Wednesday, with the MSCI index down 0.3%.
Mainland China stocks fell as investors booked profits after a rally in consumer and healthcare firms following the government’s decision to allow couples to have up to three children.
But most major stock indexes in Europe, Middle East and Africa rose, capping losses for the overall EM index.
(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)