January 31, 2020 / 9:08 AM / 19 days ago

EMERGING MARKETS-EM stocks log dour week as China epidemic dents growth optimism

* WHO declares coronavirus a global emergency

* EM stocks eye worst week since May 2019

* Travel curbs hit tourism and retail sectors

* Turkish glassmaker Sisecam up 11% after profit forecast

* South African rand slips as power cuts weigh

By Sagarika Jaisinghani

Jan 31 (Reuters) - Emerging market stocks fell for the seventh straight session on Friday, with optimism around faster global growth fading as the World Health Organization declared a global emergency in the wake of the deadly coronavirus outbreak in China.

An index of emerging market stocks shed 0.4% and was on track to log its biggest weekly decline since May 2019, as risk appetite took a hit from the epidemic that has killed more than 200 people and drew a warning from the U.S. government against travelling to China.

With several companies suspending operations in China and with the travel, tourism and retail sectors taking a hit from tough containment measures by Beijing, investors have turned wary about an uptick in economic growth.

Latest data from the world’s No.2 economy showed factory activity faltered in January, raising concerns about a further slowdown in February as the full economic effects of the outbreak become known.

“The market will need more clarity on the results of containment efforts in China,” said Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiCorp.

“The key will be the spread of the virus slowing each day, so this could be a considerable weekend for risk as the market remains focused on headcount.”

With Chinese onshore markets closed until Feb. 3 for the Lunar New Year holidays, declines in Asia were led by South Korean shares, which closed out the week with their sharpest fall in 15 months.

Several emerging market currencies remained muted on Friday against a steady dollar, but were still eyeing their second straight week of declines.

The Turkish lira was nearly unchanged, a day after the central bank released quarterly inflation forecasts for 2020 and kept the door open for more policy easing after aggressively cutting interest rates last year.

Turkish equities were down about 0.2%. Glassmaker Sisecam outperformed the wider index with an 11% jump after forecasting a 200-300 basis points increase in EBITDA as a result of a merger with its units.

South Africa’s rand shed about half a percent, weighed down by renewed power cuts and a weak domestic economic outlook. The currency had tumbled nearly 1% on Thursday.

Other currencies in central and eastern European economies including Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania were flat versus 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 Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru Editing by David Holmes)

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