July 23, 2020 / 8:17 AM / 19 days ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Stocks, FX gain with wave of central bank meetings in focus

* South African central bank likely to cut repo rate

* Turkish lira flat ahead of policy rate decision

* Ukraine central bank to also reduce interest rate

By Shreyashi Sanyal

July 23 (Reuters) - Emerging market stocks eked out gains on Thursday as investors remained hopeful of more stimulus to support economic recovery, with focus shifting to central bank meetings in Turkey and South Africa.

The MSCI's index for developing world stocks rose 0.2%, with the majority of its gains capped by worries about deteriorating relations between the United States and China.

"U.S.-China relations have already been worsening since the beginning of the year... the closure of a consulate is unprecedented and could take the cold war onto a new level," said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM.

Market participants were, however, hopeful of a possible coronavirus vaccine and more stimulus to help pandemic-struck nations out of a downturn, with the MSCI index rising nearly 44% from a trough in March.

South Africa's rand firmed with money markets pricing in a 25 basis points cut to repo rate by South Africa's Reserve Bank for the fifth time this year, to an all-time low of 3.5%.

"Given the magnitude of contraction in economic activity, stabilization in the rand exchange rate and downside risks to inflation, we think a 50 bps cut in the policy rate makes more sense to us," analysts at Credit Suisse wrote in a client note.

In Turkey, its central bank is expected to keep its policy rate unchanged at 8.25%, after it halted a nearly year-long easing cycle last month citing a rise in inflation. The Turkish lira remained flat against the dollar.

Data showed Turkey's consumer confidence index fell to 60.9 points in July from 62.6 the previous month, dropping deeper into pessimistic territory.

Ukraine's central bank is likely to cut its key interest rate from 6% on Thursday at the first monetary policy meeting since a new governor took charge promising to make loans cheaper for businesses, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.

Russia's rouble firmed with higher oil prices, while central and eastern European currencies including those of Hungary, Poland and Romania rising slightly against the euro.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2020, see tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2020, 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 Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru, Editing by William Maclean)

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