EMERGING MARKETS-Hryvnia gains on IMF hope; Brazil's real dips
RIO DE JANEIRO/LONDON
RIO DE JANEIRO/LONDON Feb 28 (Reuters) - Ukraine's hryvnia jumped as much as 10 percent on Friday on hopes of a loan from the International Monetary Fund, while the Brazilian real slid 0.5 percent after the latest budget data poured cold water on hopes that the country would halt a deterioration in its fiscal performance.
Russia's rouble gained slightly but stayed near five-year lows to the dollar on Friday, pressured by fears about instability in neighboring Crimea.
The rouble and other emerging currencies were also pressured by jitters over the recent volatility in the Chinese yuan, which posted its biggest daily fall since China created its foreign exchange market in 1994.
In Ukraine, armed men have taken control of two airports in the Crimea region in what the government described as an invasion by Russian forces, raising fears of an escalation of tensions between the neighbors and between Moscow and the West.
Russia has denied involvement.
The impact of the crisis in Ukraine continued to be felt across European emerging markets but is taking a heavy toll on Russian assets in particular as it comes on the heels of evidence that the country's economy is slowing.
The rouble fell as much as 0.6 percent to the dollar before rising slightly. It also hit a fresh record low to the euro and a euro-dollar basket used by the central bank . It has lost more than 2 percent this month against the dollar, taking its losses since the start of 2014 to 9 percent.
"Ukraine is a trigger, not a cause," said Per Hammerlund, chief EM strategist at SEB in Stockholm. "We have generally a bearish view on the rouble, primarily because of fundamentals, but recent turmoil in Ukraine is contributing to a push lower."
He noted that Russia's current account surplus was shrinking while the central bank is losing reserves as it intervenes in currency markets at the pace of $400 million a day.
Russian stocks touched a new three-week low and have lost 3.5 percent so far this week.
In Ukraine, however, despite the Crimean tensions, there were signs of stabilization on financial markets after the country formed an interim government and said it would abide by the conditions of any IMF loan agreement.
An IMF mission is due in Kiev next week, raising hopes of a loan that will stave off bankruptcy and default. Meanwhile the central bank slapped curbs on deposit withdrawals from banks.
The hryvnia which fell to record low beyond 11 per dollar on Thursday, briefly traded at 9.80 per dollar, a rise of 10 percent on the day, while the country's dollar bonds were around half a point stronger across most maturities.
BRAZIL BUDGET DISAPPOINTS
Brazil's stocks and currency slid after the central government said its primary budget surplus fell in January, in a weak start for the government's efforts to boost savings and regain credibility with investors this year.
The weak fiscal numbers raised questions about President Dilma Rousseff's ability to deliver a primary budget surplus of 1.9 percent of gross domestic product in 2014, despite spending pressures stemming from her re-election campaign.
The announcement of Brazil's fiscal goal last week had been considered realistic by many investors, helping reduce market pessimism toward the country over the past few days.
"Market pressure had abated since the announcement of the fiscal target, but today's numbers raise doubts about that commitment," said Eduardo Velho, chief economist with INVX Global in Sao Paulo.
The real lost 0.5 percent on Friday after strengthening about 3 percent since last Thursday's announcement of the primary fiscal surplus target, which equals to government budget savings before debt service.
Brazil's benchmark Bovespa index dropped 0.9 percent, also knocked down by a 5.4 percent drop in shares of steelmaker CSN, which posted an unexpected loss in the fourth quarter.
Broader emerging equities tracked by a benchmark MSCI index were up 0.4 percent to a one-month high, buoyed by gains on Chinese stocks and comments by U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen.
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