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Emerging markets shore up economies

Wed., Jan. 29, 2014, midnight

LONDON – Following a bout of market turmoil that’s weighed on their currencies, central banks in emerging economies are moving fast to contain the damage.

Late Tuesday, Turkey’s central bank raised its key interest rate to 12 percent from 7.75 percent to try to stave off inflation and support the national currency, which has fallen sharply in recent weeks.

The decision was taken at an emergency meeting the central bank called for after the currency, the lira, hit a record low.

The People’s Bank of China on Tuesday injected more money into the country’s financial markets to ease strained credit conditions. India’s central bank unexpectedly raised interest rates to prop up its ailing currency.

“The market is expecting a lot and should the central bank fail to deliver we expect another round of lira weakness,” said Christian Lawrence, associate director of foreign exchange strategy at Rabobank International.

Much of the turmoil in global financial markets over the past week has been due to developments in emerging economies. Argentina suffered the most eye-catching fall in its currency amid concerns over the government’s economic policies.

However, there are broader worries that emerging markets, which have been some of the fastest-growing in recent years, are particularly vulnerable at the moment. Among the key risks are China’s economic slowdown and the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to scale back on its monetary stimulus.

The Fed is expected to announce another $10 billion reduction in its monthly bond purchases to $65 billion. For the past few years, the Fed’s stimulus has helped shore up financial markets around the world.

The stimulus had the effect of lowering Treasury interest rates, pushing investors to seek out higher returns in fast-growing emerging economies like India and Brazil.

Now that the prop of the stimulus is being taken away and the interest rates on Treasurys are starting to look more attractive, a lot of the money underpinning emerging markets is flowing out. As a result, that pressures currencies. That’s been evident across the emerging world over the past few weeks, notably in India and Turkey.

In a move to shore up its currency, the Reserve Bank of India raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 8.00 percent.


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