December 18, 2018 / 9:37 AM / a month ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Emerging stocks follow Wall Street drop, FX buoyed before Fed meeting

* Chinese shares decline

* Russian stocks at three-week low

* Hungarian forint awaits central bank meeting

By Agamoni Ghosh

Dec 18 (Reuters) - Emerging market shares fell for a third straight day on Tuesday after Wall Street slid to its lowest levels in more than a year following a run of weak data around the world.

Most developing world currencies held their ground against a fragile dollar which fell on speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve may soften its monetary policy stance amid risks of slowing economic growth.

"EM stocks are taking their cues from the big falls in the U.S. last night and all of this seems to come on the back of growing concern for the health of the global economy," said Jason Tuvey, a senior emerging market economist at Capital Economics.

MSCI's index for emerging market shares fell more than half a percent with equities losing across the board.

Stocks in China and Hong Kong fell as investors gauged the impact of a cooling economy. Chinese President Xi Jinping offered no new specific measures in a closely watched speech marking 40 years of market liberalisation.

Investors will now be eyeing China's annual Central Economic Working Conference, to be held in Beijing this week, where the government is expected to announce stimulus measures.

Emerging market currencies were steady against the dollar before the Fed's last monetary policy review meet for 2018, where rates are almost certain to rise. Markets will be more focussed on its stand on a possible rate-cycle pause in 2019.

"The FOMC meeting will continue to loom large, and there's sure to be speculation about how dovish they can sound while still hiking, or that they'll bow to market pressure," said Kit Juckes, an FX strategist at Societe Generale, in a note.

Currencies of net crude importers including Indonesia's rupiah, Turkey's lira and India's rupee strengthened as oil prices slumped for a third consecutive session on oversupply worries.

The fall in crude prices capped gains for Russia's rouble while stocks at Moscow's MOEX index slid more than 1 percent to a three-week low led by declines in energy shares.

South Africa's rand climbed 0.5 percent but Johannesburg's main stock index slid more than 1.5 percent dragged by heavy losses in one of the country's largest banks, Nedbank, after reports of a regulatory investigation into its West African associate Ecobank.

In Eastern Europe, Hungary's forint was marginally stronger against the euro before its central bank's monetary policy meeting, where officials are expected to hold rates but may offer clues about 2019 policy tightening.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2018, see tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2018, 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 Agamoni Ghosh and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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