December 11, 2019 / 9:12 AM / a month ago

EMERGING MARKETS-EM stocks inch up to 2-week high; U.S. Fed, China trade in focus

* Saudi Arabian stocks surge as Aramco debuts

* Quiet Fed expected later today- Analyst

* EM currencies largely subdued

By Ambar Warrick

Dec 11 (Reuters) - Developing world stocks inched up on Wednesday, while currencies trod water ahead of the conclusion of a U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting, with uncertainty over the Sino-U.S. trade war adding to the cautious mood.

Amid swathes of mixed headlines over trade talks, markets are holding their breath ahead of a Dec. 15 deadline for further U.S. tariff action on China, which, if met, could derail future negotiations.

“It’s been very quiet today, markets haven’t taken it as a given that the Dec. 15 tariffs have been avoided,” said Simon Harvey, FX market analyst at Monex Europe.

Stock markets strengthened slightly, as a report on Tuesday suggested that the United States may delay Sunday’s deadline.

“There’s not much buying on the headlines necessarily, because the sentiment can be quickly be reversed,” Harvey added.

The MSCI emerging markets stock index ticked up to a more-than two-week high, with Saudi Arabian stocks marking large gains on the market debut of the now world’s largest listed company, Saudi Aramco.

Shares of the oil and gas behemoth opened up 10% on their Riyadh stock market debut on Wednesday, closing in on the $2 trillion valuation long sought by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Markets were also waiting for the conclusion of the Federal Reserve’s final policy meeting this year. While the bank is expected to keep rates on hold, markets will be watching for any suggestions of future action, along with economic growth prospects in 2020.

“ In this uncertain trade environment, they have to wait for the data to show effects before they start monitoring their actions,” Monex’s Harvey said.

Chinese stocks closed marginally higher for the day, while Russian stocks ticked up to a more-than one-week high.

MSCI’s emerging market currencies index was flat as the dollar ticked up ahead of the Fed decision.

The Turkish lira and the Russian rouble weakened slightly against the dollar, while the Hungarian forint softened against the euro.

The South African rand ticked up after touching its weakest level against the dollar in nearly three weeks on Tuesday.

The country’s headline consumer price inflation was growing at its weakest pace in 10 years in November, data from Statistics South Africa showed.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2019, see tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2019, 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 Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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