* EM stocks to see first weekly decline in 7 weeks
* Stocks in S.Korea fall over 1 pct on intensifying trade tensions
* Russia’s rouble softens ahead of central bank meet
* South Africa’s rand set to shed over 2 pct weekly
By Agamoni Ghosh
Feb 8 (Reuters) – Emerging market shares fell on Friday and were on track to post weekly losses for the first time in seven weeks as investors fret about slowing global growth and a lack of any clear sign of a resolution to the U.S.-China trade row.
The dollar held near a two-week high, denting most developing world currencies as demand for safe-haven assets rose in the face of growing anxiety over the global outlook.
Investors were disappointed after U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he did not plan to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping before a March 1 deadline set by the two countries to achieve a trade deal.
If a resolution is not reached by the deadline, Trump has threatened to increase U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports.
“With China markets still closed for holidays, the rest of the Asian markets that have re-opened are likely to trade with a risk-off tone as market players re-grapple with the likelihood of US-China resuming their trade war at the end of the 90-day truce period,” said OCBC analysts in a note.
MSCI’s index for emerging market stocks fell about half a percent dragged down by losses in Asian indices including South Korea’s KOSPI, which remained shut for most of the week for Lunar New Year along with Chinese markets.
Russian stocks were set to end the week lower despite hitting all-time highs through the week. However, a 9 percent weekly gain eyed by Rusal on upbeat aluminium demand and price outlook, helped cap declines on the benchmark.
Emerging market currencies struggled, with MSCI’s currency index down every single day of the week amid the absence of Chinese yuan onshore trading due to holidays and with South Africa’s rand underperforming its peers.
Apart from being hit by a strong dollar, the rand slid after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced plans to split up state-run Eskom, making the future of the struggling utility the centre of his State of the Nation speech.
Russia’s rouble softened as investors awaited the latest central bank decision. Policymakers are expected to keep rates unchanged at 7.75 percent but investors are keen to hear any forward guidance from the bank.
India’s rupee was set to gain over 0.5 percent for the week, buoyed by the central bank’s interest rate cut and a shift in policy stance.
A number of emerging market central banks have cut rates or stayed put after the U.S. Federal Reserve signalled a pause in further monetary policy tightening, citing global growth concerns.
In emerging Europe, the Czech crown was marginally higher, a day after the central bank left interest rates unchanged as weaker growth in Europe and the global economy weigh against domestic inflationary pressures.
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For RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Agamoni Ghosh and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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