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EMERGING MARKETS-Hungarian bonds ride rating upgrade to lead gains

| LONDON, Sept 20

LONDON, Sept 20 Hungarian bonds made fresh gains on Tuesday, with short-dated yields hitting new record lows after a credit rating promotion to investment grade, while a weaker dollar saw most other emerging assets firm.

Markets are jittery before Wednesday's meetings of the Bank of Japan and the U.S. Federal Reserve and, while the latter is not expected to do much more than signal the timing of its next rate rise, the BOJ could cut interest rates further or announce measures to further steepen its bond yield curve.

In line with world stocks, emerging equities were flat just off one-week highs though some currencies were able to eke out gains thanks to a slight pullback in the dollar.

Jakob Christensen, head of emerging markets research at Danske Bank in Copenhagen, saw big moves as unlikely after the Fed, barring a policy surprise, but said the BOJ outcome could go either way.

"If (the BOJ) cut interest rates, the yen might weaken and pressure Asian emerging markets but on the other hand it would also signal a more relaxed monetary stance which from a carry trade perspective makes it more interesting to borrow in yen and place it in high-yielding EM curencies," he said.

Emerging market investors were watching central bank meetings due later, with Hungary in immediate focus.

The central bank in Budapest is seen holding interest rates at 0.9 percent but capping the volume of money investable in short-dated three-month deposits to stimulate bank lending.

The forint was flat against the euro, holding off the 6-1/2-month highs hit after S&P Global's move on Friday to restore Hungary's sovereign rating back to investment grade .

Budapest stocks pulled off 9-year highs hit on Monday but bonds extended gains, with three-, and five-year yields, slipping to new record lows around at 1.22 percent and 1.77 percent. Ten-year yields hit six-week lows around 2.78 percent, down 5 bps on the day.

Yields across the curve have fallen in recent days, with the three-year segment falling 26 bps since Sept 15, while five and 10-year yields are down around 20 bps.

JPMorgan said the rating upgrade could bring flows of $1-1.5 billion to local bonds, but added monetary easing did not appear warranted. The rise in wage and unit labour costs could push core inflation to 3 percent by end-2017, the bank added.

It advised staying underweight Hungarian bonds and overweight Poland and Romania "given the higher carry offered in those markets".

Nigeria's central bank is also due to hold a meeting at 1430 GMT and is facing pressure to loosen monetary policy, with Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun calling for a rate cut to stimulate the moribund economy.

Economists polled by Reuters expect rates to be held at 14 percent even though the economy is expected to contract as inflation is running at over 17 percent on an annual basis.

The South African rand rose 0.7 percent to a one-week high against the dollar boosted also by some calming in local political tensions and Moody's comments that the probability of a rating downgrade to junk was now less than 50 percent .

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2016, see link.reuters.com/jus35t

For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2016, see link.reuters.com/weh36s

For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging Europe performance 2016, see link.reuters.com/jun28s

For GRAPHIC on MSCI frontier index performance 2016, see link.reuters.com/zyh97s

For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

For TURKISH market report, see

For RUSSIAN market report, see ) Emerging Markets Prices from Reuters Equities Latest Net Chg % Chg % Chg

on year

Morgan Stanley Emrg Mkt Indx 897.38 -0.30 -0.03 +13.00

Czech Rep 864.75 +2.92 +0.34 -9.58

Poland 1743.72 -6.06 -0.35 -6.21

Hungary 28414.39 -150.15 -0.53 +18.79

Romania 6978.77 +8.82 +0.13 -0.36

Greece 558.22 +0.75 +0.13 -11.58

Russia 958.40 -11.35 -1.17 +26.60

South Africa 45132.81 -363.40 -0.80 -1.45

Turkey 77170.34 -500.41 -0.64 +7.59

China 3023.30 -2.75 -0.09 -14.58

India 28526.62 -107.88 -0.38 +9.22

Currencies Latest Prev Local Local

close currency currency

% change % change

in 2016

Czech Rep 27.00 27.02 +0.06 -0.02

Poland 4.30 4.30 +0.02 -0.95

Hungary 308.82 308.44 -0.12 +1.88

Romania 4.45 4.45 -0.12 +1.52

Serbia 123.05 123.11 +0.05 -1.28

Russia 64.91 64.60 -0.49 +12.38

Kazakhstan 339.33 338.65 -0.20 +0.34

Ukraine 25.85 25.73 -0.46 -7.34

South Africa 13.91 14.00 +0.64 +11.15

Kenya 101.15 101.20 +0.05 +1.04

Israel 3.77 3.77 -0.02 +3.08

Turkey 2.98 2.97 -0.08 -2.04

China 6.67 6.67 -0.07 -2.66

India 67.04 66.97 -0.10 -1.25

Brazil 3.27 3.27 +0.09 +21.10

Mexico 19.64 19.68 +0.22 -12.56

Debt Index Strip Spd Chg %Rtn Index

Sov'gn Debt EMBIG 368 0 .07 761.40

(Additional reporting by Claire Milhench in London and Sandor Peto in Budapest; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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