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Emerging markets held in check as dollar resumes climb

Emerging market stocks paused on Tuesday as the dollar resumed its climb, shrugging off last week’s disappointing jobs data in the United States, though gains in Asia helped equities cling to four-month highs.

The MSCI emerging stocks benchmark index was flat, while the MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan index traded 0.3 percent higher after a 2.5 percent rise in Shanghai shares. Emerging market assets got a boost from a tepid US jobs report on Friday, which fuelled expectations of measured interest rate rises by the U.S. Federal Reserve, making dollar assets less attractive. However, the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of othercurrencies, resumed its climb on Tuesday, to trade 0.4 percent higher. Analysts said the dollar’s bounce could be limited, though.

“We are seeing some retracement from dollar weakness. The U.S. jobs data was not horrible … but it is not going to be easy from here for the dollar to keep going higher and higher against high-yield currencies such as lira,” said Luis Costa, a senior emerging market debt and foreign exchange strategist at Citi. “I think the traction in bearish emerging market trades is a bit more controlled now.”

Turkey’s lira was 0.5 percent weaker against the dollar, pressured by the rising dollar and worries about political instability after far-left militants took a prosecutor hostage last week. He later died in a shoot-out between police and the militants.

Moscow stocks were lower, with the dollar-denominated RTS index falling 1 percent and its rouble-based counterpart, the MICEX down 0.6 percent.

The rouble also gave up earlier gains stemming from a recovering oil market, retreating from a 2015 high to fall 0.15 percent against the dollar.

In Ukraine, dollar bonds of state-run Oschadbank and Ukreximbank rose sharply after the government hinted they could be treated more leniently in an ongoing debt restructuring.

On Saturday, Kiev approved a framework for Ukraine’s debt restructuring, through which it aims to generate $15.3 billion.

Elsewhere, the Czech Republic was close to becoming the first country in the world without a quantitative easing programme to see negative bond yields as the return on its benchmark two-year bond traded close to zero.

Key Asian currencies were weaker with the Indian rupee at a one-week low after the central bank opted to keep rates unchanged, triggering outflows from bonds and stocks.

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