London: Emerging stocks hit a one-month low on Wednesday after fears about China’s economy dragged down copper and other commodities, while worries about western sanctions on Russia weighed on the rouble, forcing the central bank to intervene.
Shanghai shares hit their lowest in nearly eight weeks as worries grew that economic data due on Thursday would confirm a slowdown in the world’s second-biggest economy.
Concerns also lingered about China’s credit sector following its first domestic bond default last week.
Shanghai copper fell by its 5 per cent daily limit, while London copper touched a 44-month low as investors grew worried that tighter credit conditions would weigh on financing deals that use the metal as collateral, which could lead to more selling.
“There are concerns over the health of the Chinese economy, with signs that export growth is slowing sharply,” said Neil Shearing, head of emerging market research at Capital Economics.
“And there are signs that the tensions over Crimea are continuing and showing no signs of abating... All these issues are from the emerging world, not to do with the Federal Reserve.” The benchmark MSCI emerging equity index fell more than 1 per cent. Emerging markets have been under pressure since mid-2013 when the Fed first suggested it would scale back the pace of monetary stimulus.
Selling snowballed this year as China’s economic slowdown and growing political turmoil in countries like Turkey and Ukraine triggered capital flight, forcing many central banks to raise interest rates to support their currencies.
Russian shares lost more than 1 per cent as investors grew worried that western sanctions on Russia over Crimea could hit the country’s already flagging economy.
Russia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Moscow plans to respect the results of a March 16 referendum in Crimea that is expected to back the region’s reunification with Russia.
The rouble was steady to lower after the central bank intervened to keep the currency inside the floating corridor.
The country’s five-year credit default swap rate rose 11 basis points from Tuesday’s close to 248 bps, the highest since June 2012, according to Markit.
Russia’s 2043 dollar bond fell 1.4 points to 94.255, the lowest since the bond was launched in September. The bond has lost more than 6 per cent this month alone.
South Africa’s rand dropped more than 1 per cent as concerns about China outweighed improvements in the country’s own current account deficit, which narrowed more than expected in the final quarter of 2013 as exports outpaced imports.
Hungary’s forint fell 0.1 per cent to 314.01 per euro after Tuesday’s weaker-than-expected inflation data reinforced expectations the central bank would cut interest rates again.