May 14 (Reuters) - Most emerging market currencies gained on Friday, helped by a calmer dollar and easing Treasury yields as comments from Federal Reserve officials soothed concerns over immediate policy tightening, while stocks were set for their worst week since February.
MSCI’s index of emerging market currencies gained 0.2%, but was set to snap a five-week winning streak, while stocks were set to drop nearly 3.5% this week and more than 10% from their February peak, hitting correction territory.
Most emerging market assets were set to drop for the week after data on Wednesday showed U.S. inflation in April gained the most in nearly 12 years, intensifying concerns of tighter monetary policy.
However, those concerns eased after Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller said on Thursday the Fed would not raise rates until it sees inflation above target for a long time, or excessively high inflation.
The dollar and benchmark Treasury yields trended lower after Waller’s comments, but were set to gain for the week.
Still, inflation fears continue to grip emerging markets, with economists forecasting further spikes this year as commodity, food and input prices rise due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A range of factors is conspiring to push up global inflation, including base effects, rising commodity prices (food, metals and oil), supply-side bottlenecks, and pent-up demand in some sectors,” said Luiz Eduardo Peixoto, an economist at BNP Paribas.
“In EM, we suspect inflation could prove a bigger issue in coming months than many seem ready for and we have increased our inflation projections across the board in all EM regions.”
The Turkish lira and Russian rouble gained 0.4% and 0.1% respectively, while the South African rand eased 0.3%.
Most central European currencies including the Hungarian forint, Polish zloty and Czech crown rose between 0.1% and 0.4% ahead of key economic data and central bank commentary.
The crown edged 0.3% higher after members of the Czech central bank’s 7-strong board agreed the time for raising interest rates has come much closer, while the country’s current account showed a lower-than-expected surplus in March.
Poland’s zloty edged higher after its inflation jumped to 4.3% in April from a year ago, while its GDP shrank by 1.2% in the first quarter, above analyst forecasts.
Calculations from BofA showed that emerging market equity funds attracted $3.9 billion in the week to Wednesday, their largest inflows in the past four weeks, while debt funds took in $1.2 billion in a sixth straight week of inflows.
Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra