April 23, 2020 / 8:49 AM / 4 months ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Stocks, FX edge higher on stimulus hopes, oil recovery

* South African stocks supported by reopening plans

* Russia's rouble tracks bounceback in oil

* Central European currencies fall against euro

By Ambar Warrick

April 23 (Reuters) - Developing world risk assets inched up on Thursday amid increased speculation over global stimulus measures, while a recovery in the oil market also brewed some optimism.

The United States looked on course to approve nearly $500 billion in domestic aid, while markets also hoped for more stimulus measures from the euro zone to combat the coronavirus outbreak. All this was topped off by a recovery in the oil market following a crash earlier in the week.

The MSCI's index of emerging market stocks rose about 0.5%, while currencies added 0.1%. Both indexes were down for the week so far.

While risk assets have reclaimed a measure of lost ground since a devastating rout in March, they have been largely rangebound over the past few weeks amid rampant uncertainty over how the world will recover from the outbreak.

"Financial markets are making a lot of noise, pedalling hard, but going nowhere in a hurry," Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst - Asia Pacific at OANDA, said in a note.

"COVID-19 has decimated the global economy and oil's travails this week should have sapped the delusional confidence of even the most ardent v-shaped recovery desperado."

Preliminary data showed business activity in the euro zone flat-lined in April due to lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The reading set a dour tone for U.S. data due later in the day.

South African stocks took some support from news that the country is considering introducing flexible restrictions on economic activity after it phases out a nationwide lockdown.

The rand, however, fell to a near record low against the dollar as emerging market currencies continued to bear the brunt of a safe-haven rush for the U.S. dollar.

Russia's rouble bounced in tandem with oil prices. The currency had marked steep losses earlier in the week.

Russian stocks were flat. Other emerging market stocks took some support from a strong overnight session on Wall Street, although gains were muted.

Central European currencies such as the Hungarian forint and the Polish zloty retreated to 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 Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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