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EMERGING MARKETS-Stocks, FX muted ahead of U.S. inflation data; Alibaba gains

* Dollar boost from inflation likely temporary- Analyst

* Hungarian forint, Polish zloty retreat from recent highs

* Russian rouble stays near five-month lows

April 13 (Reuters) - Emerging market stocks and currencies were subdued on Tuesday, as investors awaited key U.S. inflation data that could set the stage for more dollar strength and undercut risk-driven assets.

The MSCI’s index of emerging market currencies fell about 0.1%, with most units in Europe, the Middle East and Africa retreating slightly to the dollar.

But investment bank JPMorgan recommended selling emerging market currencies, citing underperformance in comparison to developed markets, as well as a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

While emerging market stocks were also largely flat, shares of Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba rose 0.6%, after rallying more than 6% on Monday amid relief that the firm would not be greatly affected by a recent government crackdown on online firms.

Shares of Chinese peer Tencent fell about 1%.

Investors were anticipating U.S. inflation data, due at 1230 GMT, to provide cues on a recovery in the world’s largest economy. A stronger-than-expected reading could ramp up expectations of early monetary policy tightening by the Federal Reserve, and boost the dollar and treasury yields.

Earlier this year, emerging market debt and currencies had come under pressure from strength in the dollar, as rising U.S. yields made risk-driven debt appear less attractive.

“(Inflation data) is likely to prove positive for the U.S. dollar, but we don’t expect any recovery to last for long... the Fed has clearly noted that any surge in inflation this year is likely to prove to be temporary and that inflation will rise and stay above 2% for some time,” Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group, said in a note.

In EMEA, Turkey’s lira fell slightly to the dollar, while South Africa’s rand and the Russian rouble marked small gains.

Fears of increased COVID-19 curbs in Turkey weighed on the lira, which is already trading near record lows on concerns over the credibility of the country’s central bank.

In central Europe, the Hungarian forint and Polish zloty both retreated from recent peaks against the euro.

The Czech crown weakened slightly to the euro after March inflation rose lesser than expected. Still, the figure was above central bank targets of 2%.

In Latin America, Ecuador bonds hit seven-month highs overnight after banker Guillermo Lasso pulled off a surprise win in Sunday’s presidential runoff against socialist economist Andres Arauz.

Sentiment in Asia was slightly helped by positive trade data from China, with strong exports indicating a recovery in global demand from the pandemic.

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

For TOP NEWS across emerging markets

For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

For TURKISH market report, see

For RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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