Israel’s shekel weakens ahead of rate verdict, Asia stocks fall


A gauge on emerging market stocks dipped on Monday as most bourses in Asia took a hit on the first day of the week, while Israel’s shekel was under pressure ahead of its central bank’s monetary policy decision.

As of 0921 GMT, MSCI’s gauge for emerging market stocks. MSCIEF dipped 0.4% as stocks in EM heavyweight China. CSI300 closed 1.0% lower, snapping a nine-day winning streak.

Bourses in South Korea.KS11 and Hong Kong.HSI also started the week on softer footing, falling 0.8% and 0.5%, respectively.

Focus will remain on Israel, with the shekel ILS= falling 0.3% to 3.6302 per dollar ahead of the Bank of Israel’s verdict on monetary policy at 1400 GMT, with traders split between a quarter-point rate cut or the bank opting to stand pat at 4.5%.

In Europe, the Hungarian forint EURHUF= led losses early on, down 0.6% against the euro ahead of its central bank rate decision on Tuesday, with bets hinting at the bank cutting its base rate by 100 bps to 9%.

The Czech crown EURCZK= was pinned at 25.357 per euro, while Poland’s zloty EURPLN= eased 0.2%.

A broader gauge of EM currencies .MIEM00000CUS edged 0.1% higher, while South Africa’s rand ZAR= fell 0.1% against the dollar

Stocks in Johannesburg .JTOPI dropped 1.1% as SasolSOLJ.J, the world’s biggest producer of fuels and chemicals from coal and gas, fell 5.7% after reporting a 34% decline in half-year profit.

The Russian rouble RUBUTSTN=MCX hovered at near 93 to the dollar, while the dollar-denominated RTS stock index .IRTS rose 2.4%. RU/RUB


A plethora of inflation data around the world will take center stage this week, including a broader euro zone print and manufacturing activity figures out of China.

Also on the radar will be the Federal Reserve’s favored measure of inflation – the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index – due on Thursday.

“All in all, we expect this last week of February to encourage less aggressive bets on Fed easing,” Francesco Pesole, FX strategist at ING, wrote, referring to the PCE data.

EM currencies have been rocked lately as investors continue to scale back their enthusiasm around rate cut expectations from the Fed amid signs of economic resilience in the world’s biggest economy.