Dec 24 (Reuters) - The Turkish lira steadied on Thursday ahead of an expected interest rate hike by the central bank, while most other emerging market currencies were flat in light trading on Christmas Eve.
The lira was down 0.1%, holding near its strongest level in a month as investors took heart from the government and central bank’s recent pledge to rein in high inflation and support the battered currency.
Economists expect policymakers to hike the one-week repo rate to 16.50% from 15%, a Reuters poll showed. The estimates ranged between a hike of 75 basis points and 200 basis points.
“Most traders expect a minimum rate hike of 100 basis points, and anything below will weigh on the lira,” said Cristian Maggio, head of emerging market strategy at TD Securities.
Turkey’s central bank is scheduled to announce its rate decision at 1100 GMT - among the last in the developing world to hold a policy meeting this year.
Most other EM currencies firmed against a slightly weaker dollar as hopes of an imminent Brexit trade deal between Britain and the European Union boosted appetite for risky assets.
Russia’s rouble gained 0.5% but risks of new sanctions against the country and a dip in oil prices checked further gains.
South Africa’s rand traded flat as improving global sentiment was offset by a rapidly worsening fresh COVID-19 wave at home and the discover of a new variant of the virus.
The health ministry reported the highest-ever daily increase in coronavirus cases and is also contemplating fresh lockdowns to limit the spread.
Most central European currencies were subdued against the euro with Hungary’s forint and the Polish zloty losing 0.2%, while the Czech crown traded flat.
MSCI’s index of emerging market stocks rose 0.4%, tracking gains in Asian stocks as investors placed bets on global economic recovery prospects in 2021.
(Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)