March 15, 2013 / 11:57 AM / in 5 years

EMERGING MARKETS-Rand holds above recent lows, rouble flat

LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) - The South African rand fell on Friday but remained above recent four-year-lows after a boost from manufacturing data in the previous session, while the rouble was flat after Russia’s central bank kept interest rates steady.

The rand, with an 8 percent fall the biggest loser among major emerging currencies this year, fell as much as 0.5 percent in morning trade.

Manufacturing on Thursday was stronger than expected but analysts said demand is unlikely to be so strong for the rest of the year in an economy buffeted by labour unrest over the past year.

“We think any pullback in the rand is likely to be temporary as a result of South Africa’s intensifying idiosyncratic risks,” Absa Capital said in a note, noting strikes in the country’s coal sector after widespread unrest last year.

The rouble was flat after Russia kept rates on hold as expected but struck a dovish note. The subtle shift in its policy statement comes after presidential aide Elvira Nabiullina was named the new central bank governor to replace Sergei Ignatyev whose term expires at the end of June

Emerging stocks fell 0.3 percent after being flat in the previous session, with losses of 1 percent year-to-date.

The forint fell 0.7 percent as investors question the independence of Hungary’s central bank since the appointment of Gyorgy Matolcsy, a close associate of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, as bank governor.

But volumes of forint trade were low with the country’s markets closed for a national holiday.

Sources told Reuters Matolcsy’s changes within the central bank were creating a “sense of uncertainty.”

The currency has recovered from nine-month lows this week, helped by verbal intervention from government and central bank officials.

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