EMERGING MARKETS-Currencies scale 3-week highs as Powell's dovish stance quashes dollar

Aug 30 (Reuters) – Emerging market currencies scaled three-week peaks on Monday as risk appetite got a lift after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell offered a slower-than-expected path to rate hikes.

Developing world stocks also got a boost, up 0.9%, after Powell at the Jackson Hole symposium offered no signal on when the U.S. central bank plans to cut its asset purchases.

Measures by major central banks that ensured ample liquidity have helped foreign inflows to risky assets of emerging markets through the pandemic-led uncertainty. MSCI’s index of EM currencies is up around 0.7% so far this year after having gained more than 3% last year.

“Powell broke little new ground on the Fed’s outlook for the economy and its likely policy path, consistent with market expectations leading up to the speech,” Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management said.

“However, it did have a dovish tilt, with clear investment implications that support the continuation of the reflation trade.”

Extending gains from the previous week, the Shanghai Composite rose 0.2%, although China blue-chips lost 0.3%. Most Asian bourses advanced, led by a 1.2% jump in Thai stocks.

Elsewhere, stocks in Poland, Hungary and Russia climbed between 0.5% and 1%. Russia’s MOEX index is now just about 1% away from all-time highs.

The EM stocks benchmark is set to end August up around half a percent after July’s 7% plunge, which was its worst month since March 2020. EM currencies are set to mark gains of about 0.1% following two months of losses.

With the dollar languishing at two-week lows, most EM currencies firmed. Malaysia’s ringgit hit over seven-week highs, and South Africa’s rand rose for a sixth straight session, up 0.6%.

Falling oil prices capped gains for crude exporter Russia’s rouble to 0.1%.

Markets in Turkey were closed for a local holiday.

Focus now turns to U.S. jobs data later this week, as well as a slew of PMIs and GDP numbers from across the globe to asses the momentum of the global economy from a pandemic induced slump. Central bank meetings in Colombia and Chile are also on deck.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2021, see tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2021, see tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX

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