January 24, 2020 / 9:18 AM / 25 days ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Assets stable, still set for first weekly decline in more than a month

* EM stocks, FX indexes to log first weekly fall in eight

* WHO says virus outbreak a China emergency, not global

* Russian rouble firms on tax payment support

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Jan 24 (Reuters) - Emerging market assets stabilised on Friday as investors took comfort from the World Health Organization confining an announcement of a coronavirus emergency to China, but were still set to end the week lower for the first time in more than a month.

The WHO on Thursday declared the outbreak an emergency for China but stopped short of declaring the epidemic of international concern.

Worries still lingered in global financial markets about the spread of the flu-like virus, which had killed 25 people and infected more than 800 as of Thursday.

“Concerns regarding the new coronavirus outbreak continue, so market makers do not want to be short just in case contagion fear escalates over the weekend,” said Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiCorp.

MSCI’s index for emerging market stocks rose 0.2%, while its index for currencies remained flat. Both indexes were set to log their first weekly decline since early December, snapping a seven-week rally.

Investors have increased their exposure to riskier assets in the emerging markets space since early December after the cooling of trade tensions between the United States and China. The signing of an initial trade deal between the two sides also helped boost risk appetite.

Russia’s rouble firmed as it was supported by month-end tax payments that usually prompt export-focused companies to convert their foreign currency revenues. A recovery in the oil price also helped support Russia’s currency.

Among other currencies, the Turkish lira and the South African rand strengthened against the dollar.

Currencies in central and eastern Europe including Hungary’s forint, Poland’s zloty and the Czech crown firmed slightly against the euro.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2020, see tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2020, 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 Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru)

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