EMERGING MARKETS-Emerging assets firmer on solid Chinese data, Fed reassurance
LONDON Feb 12 (Reuters) - Emerging stocks rose 1 percent on Wednesday to three-week highs, boosted by solid Chinese trade data and the new Federal Reserve boss who testified that there were no plans to speed up the pace of stimulus withdrawal.
Currencies also rose, led by the Hungarian forint's half percent gains, while in Asia, the Korean won hit a one-month high to the dollar.
Behind the sentiment boost was data showing China's January exports and imports easily beat forecasts, easing concerns over a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
The data helped extend the previous session's gains that were fuelled by comments from Fed chairman Janet Yellen who was upbeat on the U.S. economy but said she would not make abrupt changes to U.S. monetary policy.
"Risk appetite has improved because Yellen provided stability to markets. Markets are also tired of selling. There has been a significant build-up of short positions and at any sign of improvement you will see a short-covering type of rally," said Ilan Solot, emerging markets strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in London.
"But fundamentals are still on the weak side."
Most stock markets rose, with Russian and Turkish stocks jumping 1 percent .
Solot put the forint's rise - bigger than its neighbours - to the fact that it had fallen more in recent weeks on signs the central bank would continue to cut interest rates.
"There is a much larger short base in the forint than other Eastern European currencies," he said.
In the former Soviet Union, Kazakhstan's tenge eased a quarter point, a day after the central bank devalued it by 19 percent against the dollar.
The Ukrainian hryvnia fell 1 percent before recovering to trade marginally weaker against the dollar.
Further depreciation pressure is likely on the currency which analysts say looks uncompetitively valued against trade partners Russia and Kazakhstan and is weighed down by political turmoil and the suspension of a $15 billion loan from Russia.
The rouble eased a touch and the central bank again lowered the corridor in which the currency trades, having shifted it almost 30 times this year.
Unicredit forecasts more weakness in the hryvnia and rouble.
"The risk of sharp currency losses is largest in Ukraine, even in an scenario where the authorities return to the deal with Russia," analysts there told clients.
"In Russia... our concern is that the weakening balance of payments dynamics will prevent a stabilisation in the rouble.. In the absence of oil price increases, we are at risk of continued depreciation of rouble albeit at a slower pace."
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