LONDON, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Wall Street's record run helped emerging stocks sail to new 19-month highs on Wednesday with year-to-date gains of over 10 percent, while the rand firmed ahead of a key budget speech by the finance minister.
MSCI's emerging equity index firmed half a percent , led by a 1 percent rise in Hong Kong after New York shares hit record highs and European bourses were boosted by upbeat factory data in Germany and France.
The index has posted a daily loss only three times so far in February, buoyed also by recovering economic growth and stronger company earnings. Analysts expect earnings-per-share to grow this year by 13.5 percent, according to I/B/E/S, having upgraded expectations from 12.4 percent in November.
Hong Kong on Wednesday said its economy grew a forecast-beating 1.9 percent last year and predicted 2-3 percent growth in 2017.
"The macro environment is still quite constructive for emerging markets despite the risk of further rate hikes from the Fed," said Phoenix Kalen, a strategist at Societe Generale.
"Also, the stabilising of commodity prices, the strong rebound in metals prices – these are quite beneficial for EM exporters so we are seeing a cyclical pick up in trade performance alongside positive external rebalancing."
Signs of improving growth have boosted central European shares this week, with Warsaw hitting 18-month highs, Budapest hovering at record highs and Bucharest on Wednesday touching a new nine-year high.
Recent data showed the Polish economy, the region's biggest, expanding at its fastest quarterly rate since 2007.
The Polish zloty touched a new 10-day high versus the euro while Hungary's forint traded just off five-week highs and the Romanian leu was at a one-week high.
The South African rand firmed 0.4 percent to the dollar despite jitters over a 1200 GMT budget speech by finance minister Pravin Gordhan who is trying to prevent a ratings downgrade to junk for his country.
Commerzbank analysts said the budget could see the conflict between Gordhan and President Jacob Zuma "enter the next round", referring to speculation that Zuma wants to remove Gordhan.
"So as to convince the rating agencies and ensure that South Africa's rating will not be downgraded to junk status Gordhan has to demonstrate the government has got its spending under control," Commerzbank analysts wrote.
"Zuma on the other hand wants to rely on spending billions ... to fight racial injustice and poverty."
SocGen's Kalen said the fiscal commitment was not a risk as long as Gordhan remained in office.
"What worries the market is the political dynamics at this point. That does put rand on the back foot depending on how that shapes out and whether that impacts the ability of Pravin Gordhan to stay committed to a tight fiscal stance," she added.
Nigeria's naira steadied in the non-deliverable forward (NDF) market after Tuesday's sharp falls triggered by a decision to effectively devalue the currency for private individuals needing to pay for foreign travel and school fees.
Six-month NDFs are showing the naira trading around 390 per dollar versus the official rate around 305.
Emerging bond issues continued to flood in, with Turkish bank Yapi Credit placing $600 million five-year debt at 5.75 percent, much tighter than initial guidance and Bahrain rushing in a $600 million deal before long-awaited Omani and Kuwaiti bonds arrive.
Russian Rail was marketing a seven-year dollar issue on Wednesday, the latest Russian issuer to hit bond markets. More than $2 billion has been raised by Russian companies so far this year.
Emerging sovereign bond yield spreads compressed to 312 basis points (bps), a one-week low, and having tightened around 15 bps since the start of February.
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For RUSSIAN market report, see) Emerging Markets Prices from Reuters Equities Latest Net Chg % Chg % Chg
Morgan Stanley Emrg Mkt Indx 950.03 +4.39 +0.46 +10.18
Czech Rep 974.71 +0.24 +0.02 +5.76
Poland 2250.99 +2.47 +0.11 +15.56
Hungary 34173.91 -151.08 -0.44 +6.78
Romania 8000.12 +87.48 +1.11 +12.92
Greece 653.40 -1.80 -0.27 +1.52
Russia 1154.59 -7.06 -0.61 +0.20
South Africa 45173.59 -382.39 -0.84 +2.90
Turkey 88800.10 -165.04 -0.19 +13.64
China 3260.94 +7.61 +0.23 +5.07
India 28859.83 +98.24 +0.34 +8.39
Currencies Latest Prev Local Local
close currency currency
% change % change
Czech Rep 27.00 27.01 +0.03 +0.02
Poland 4.29 4.29 -0.00 +2.56
Hungary 307.19 307.45 +0.08 +0.53
Romania 4.52 4.51 -0.12 +0.39
Serbia 123.76 123.73 -0.02 -0.33
Russia 57.82 57.38 -0.77 +5.95
Kazakhstan 314.79 316.09 +0.41 +5.99
Ukraine 26.95 27.03 +0.30 +0.19
South Africa 13.10 13.12 +0.18 +4.82
Kenya 103.47 103.50 +0.03 -1.06
Israel 3.71 3.70 -0.27 +3.82
Turkey 3.62 3.62 +0.11 -2.45
China 6.88 6.88 +0.04 +0.95
India 66.97 66.96 -0.01 +1.46
Brazil 3.10 3.09 -0.00 +5.11
Mexico 20.07 20.01 -0.32 +3.21
Debt Index Strip Spd Chg %Rtn Index
Sov'gn Debt EMBIG 335 -1 .08 7 60.68 1
All data taken from Reuters at 10:07 GMT. Currency percent change calculated from the daily U.S. close at 2130 GMT.
Additional reporting by Claire Milhench; editing by Richard Lough