December 24, 2018 / 9:36 AM / 6 months ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Emerging stocks falter; most currencies gain against weak dollar

(There will be no EMEA-focused emerging markets report on Dec 25, 26 on account of Christmas holidays; Reuters will resume coverage of the same from Dec 27)

* MSCI emerging markets stock index hits lowest since Oct. 31

* China stocks gain on promise of more stimulus

* Russian rouble up 1 pct on higher oil prices, weak dollar

By Susan Mathew

Dec 24 (Reuters) - Emerging market stocks touched a two month low on Monday as risk appetite was hit by uncertainty surrounding political turmoil in the United States amid fears of a slowdown in the global economy.

The MSCI index of emerging market shares fell to its lowest since Oct. 31, down 0.4 percent in holiday-thinned trade, with South Korean and Hong Kong stocks leading losses in Asia.

Sentiment soured as Washington said over the weekend that the partial U.S. government shutdown could continue into January, and as sources said U.S. President Donald Trump had privately discussed the possibility of firing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sought to calm investors, tweeting that Trump had told him that he never suggested dismissing the Fed chief.

“U.S. economic and policy uncertainty in the wake of the weekend headlines suggests risk will continue to struggle on Christmas eve,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA.

But, losses on the broader index were capped by mainland China stocks closing higher on Beijing’s promise to step up support for the economy next year amid a lingering trade war with the United States.

The Shanghai composite climbed 0.4 percent, while Chinese blue-chips broke a six-day losing streak to rise 0.3 percent.

Stocks in Turkey and South African also perked up, while Russian stocks lost 0.7 percent, declining for the ninth session in 11.

Most emerging market currencies firmed as the dollar weakened with investors turning to the Japanese yen and the Swiss franc for safety.

The Indian rupee and the South Korean won led gains among Asian currencies, up 0.3 percent each.

The Turkish lira tacked up 0.3 percent, while South Africa’s rand rose for the first time in four day, up 0.7 percent.

Russia’s rouble recovered from 14-week lows hit last week and rose 1 percent tracking a rise in oil prices.

Most Eastern European currencies made marginal moves against a stronger euro.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2018, see tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2018, see tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX

For TOP NEWS across emerging markets

For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

For TURKISH market report, see

For RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams)

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