EMERGING MARKETS-Tencent, COVID woes cap gains for stocks; Turkish lira firms

* Turkish inflation hits 18.95% in July, more than expected

* Tencent drops 6% after media attack

* Russian rouble up for 7th session running; oil up

Aug 3 (Reuters) - Rising inflation pushed the Turkish lira to seven-week highs on Tuesday while a drop in Chinese gaming company Tencent, worries about the COVID-19 Delta variant and tighter regulations in China kept a lid on emerging market stocks.

Turkey’s lira was up 0.4% against the dollar after date showed year-on-year inflation rose more than expected in July to 18.95%, just shy of the country’s benchmark interest rate of 19%.

“The further jump in Turkey’s headline inflation rate... will delay the start of an easing cycle until the back end of this year,” said Jason Tuvey, senior EM economist at Capital Economics, adding that he expects the one-week repo rate to finish 2021 at 17.00%.

The central bank’s response at its meeting next week, and the government’s reaction thereto pose a “huge event risk” said Simon Harvey, senior FX market analyst at Monex, given the President Tayyip Erdogan had called for rate cuts by August.

Erdogan’s interference in monetary policy and his sacking of a hawkish governor earlier this year has contributed to the lira being among the worst performing EM currencies so far this year, down about 11%, along with Peru’s sol.

Most other EM currencies firmed against a weaker dollar on Tuesday ahead of key U.S. jobs data this week. Russia’s rouble rose 0.4%, on track for its seventh straight session of gain against the greenback.

The International Monetary Fund on Monday approved a $650 billion allocation of IMF Special Drawing Rights, with about $275 billion going to emerging markets and developing countries.

Among stocks, MSCI’s index of EM shares was up 0.2%, helped by gains in most Asian bourses as well as those across emerging Europe, Middle East and Africa. But Hong Kong stocks and the Shanghai Composite lost 0.5% each.

China’s largest social media and video game firm Tencent dropped 6% to weigh most on the Hang Seng index after a state media article described online games as “spiritual opium.” Tencent said it would curb minors’ access to its flagship video game “Honor of Kings”.

Meanwhile, China’s regulatory agency said it is launching an investigation into chip distributors in the auto industry - the latest after earlier crackdowns on the technology, property and education sectors which sent global equity markets spiralling on worries about tighter control by China of its industries.

Mainland stocks were also hit by the spread of the Delta variant from the coast to inland cities, prompting authorities to implement strict measures to bring the outbreak under control.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2021, see For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2021, see

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