December 17, 2018 / 9:45 AM / 9 months ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Stocks look for direction, currencies gain as dollar slips

* Turkey’s lira falls after disappointing data

* Most currencies gain as dollar rally pauses

* Chinese blue chips end lower

By Agamoni Ghosh

Dec 17 (Reuters) - Emerging-market shares stabilised on Monday after a global sell-off last week as investors remained cautious before key policy events in China and the United States this week. The dollar slid from 19-month highs, benefiting most currencies.

MSCI’s index for emerging market shares was flat with most Asian indices gaining, but those in South Africa , Russia and Turkey inching lower.

Chinese blue chips closed lower after data on new- home prices showed slowing growth in November. The broader Shanghai benchmark index closed higher.

The partial recoveries come after a sell-off on Friday sparked by weak economic data from China and Europe, which further fanned concerns of a global economic slowdown.

“A broader slowdown in growth remains the primary concern, and I suspect global growth signals will probably stay dampened through Q1 2019,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading Asia-Pacific, OANDA.

Investors will be eyeing China’s annual Central Economic Working Conference, to be held in Beijing this week, where the government is expected to announce stimulus measures to prop up the economy.

Markets are also focussing on 2018’s final meeting of the Federal Reserve, where it is widely expected to raise U.S. interest rates.

The dollar’s weakness propped up most Asian currencies, with the trade-exposed Chinese yuan gaining 0.2 percent at 6.898 per dollar.

Russia’s rouble was among the biggest gainers. Local tax payments and Friday’s interest rate increase helped it climb 0.6 percent, despite downward pressure from the central bank’s decision to resume foreign currency purchases in January.

The Indian rupee also gained. Oil prices helped the world’s third-biggest crude importer, aided by expectations that the central bank might ease liquidity further.

The Turkish lira was the only major loser. Industrial production fell more-than-expected margin in October, further evidence of an economic downturn after a currency crisis earlier this year.

“The market was expecting a negative number on a year-on- year basis and it came out worse,” said Paul Fage, senior emerging markets strategist at TD Securities in London.

The lira’s 47 percent decline far this year has raised inflation to its highest in a decade and half and cast doubt on the ability of Turkish companies to pay back an estimated $146 billion in external debt by July 2019.

In Eastern Europe, the Hungarian forint was little changed before a rate decision by the central bank on Tuesday, when borrowing costs are expected to be left unchanged. For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2018, see For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2018, see

For TOP NEWS across emerging markets

For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

For TURKISH market report, see

For RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Agamoni Ghosh and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru;)

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