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EMERGING MARKETS-Turkey's lira surges before likely rate hike, EMEA peers weaken

* No room for Turkish central bank to disappoint, analyst says

* Russia’s rouble eases from two-month highs

* South African rand set for third straight day of declines

Nov 19 (Reuters) - Turkey’s lira strengthened on Thursday before a central bank rate decision later in the day, while most other emerging market currencies weakened as economic repercussions of the pandemic outweighed encouraging vaccine developments.

The lira rose 0.8% to 7.643 per dollar at 0833 GMT. The currency weakened on Wednesday after President Tayyip Erdogan repeated his criticism of high interest rates, then recovered when he said lowering inflation is a priority.

Turkey’s central bank is expected to raise its policy rate to 15% from 10.25%, according to a Reuters poll - a move that could spark big gains in the currency, which has underperformed its peers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Concerns about the central bank’s ability to tackle elevated inflation and its decision to leave rates unchanged in October had accelerated a sell-off in the currency. But it rallied 11% last week after a major overhaul that included a new finance minister and a new central bank governor.

“It is really important for governor Agbal to send a very strong signal to the market that he is fully committed to stabilize the lira and regain control over inflation by raising interest rates substantially,” said Piotr Matys, emerging markets FX strategist at Rabobank.

“There is no room for disappointment. This is the most important monetary policy meeting that the central bank has held so far this year.”

Broadly, currencies and stocks in the region were weaker as surging coronavirus cases in the United States and mounting shutdowns offset positive news from drugmaker Pfizer that its COVID-19 vaccine was 95% effective.

A basket of emerging-market stocks fell 0.8% and its currencies counterpart was down 0.6%.

South Africa’s rand, seen as a proxy for emerging- market risk and highly susceptible to swings in global market sentiment, weakened 0.4% before its own central bank meeting later in the day. It is expected to keep rates at a record low of 3.5%.

Russia’s rouble eased from two-month peaks reached in the previous session, as the country reported a record daily increase in COVID-19 infections.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Philippine central bank unexpectedly cut policy rates by 25 basis points as it saw the need for further easing to shore up the sputtering economy.

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

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For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

For TURKISH market report, see

For RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; editing by Larry King)

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