December 18, 2019 / 9:31 AM / a month ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Stocks remain near 18-month peak as trade rally pauses

* Turkey’s lira hits two-month low as U.S. tensions simmer

* Global sentiment fades as investors eye trade deal details

* Russian rouble eases after two straight days of gains

* Czech koruna flat ahead of central bank meeting

By Sagarika Jaisinghani

Dec 18 (Reuters) - Emerging market stocks were little changed on Wednesday as investors looked for more details on a truce in the U.S.-China trade war, while Turkey’s lira slipped to a two-month low amid heightening political tensions with the United States.

MSCI’s broad basket of developing world stocks was trading nearly unchanged at an 18-month high reached the day before.

The index, which added Saudi Aramco on Wednesday, has rebounded in December after a year of trading marked by struggling local economies and worries of a global recession.

Shares in China and South Korea ended Wednesday off multi-month highs touched a day earlier on optimism fuelled by an initial trade deal announced by Washington and Beijing last week.

The news had also propelled global stocks to a record high, but lack of details on the agreement have made investors wary. Although U.S. officials said over the weekend the deal was “totally done”, it has not yet been signed by the two sides.

“Now we wait and see if the phase one deal is actually signed or not,” said David Rees, emerging markets strategist at J. Safra Sarasin Asset Management.

“And you’re going to be trying to negotiate a phase-two deal in a U.S. election year, so there’s clearly chances that this story is going to come up again and hurt sentiment at some point.”

In Turkey, the lira fell for the fourth day as the U.S. Senate passed legislation, which among other demands calls for tougher action over Turkey’s purchase of Russian missile systems.

The South African rand eased 0.2% against the dollar and the Russian rouble fell for the first time in three days.

The Russian finance ministry is due to sell two OFZ treasury bonds on Wednesday, which generally spurs foreign demand for roubles, but support could be lower than usual after the central bank indicated foreign inflows into the bonds were nearly wiped out in November.

The Russian stock index dipped slightly after gaining for five straight sessions, while Turkish shares were off 0.7%.

The Czech koruna was flat versus the euro before a central bank meeting later on Wednesday, where it is expected to keep the main two-week repo rate at 2.0%, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

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 Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Aaron Saldanha)

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