July 15, 2020 / 8:40 AM / 21 days ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Stocks bounce back on vaccine optimism; S.African rand leads gains

* South Africa's rand hits near one-month high

* Moderna coronavirus vaccine study results well-received

* U.S.-China tensions keep gains in check

By Shreyashi Sanyal

July 15 (Reuters) - Emerging market stocks bounced back on Wednesday on hopes of a coronavirus vaccine, while the high-yielding South African rand led gains among developing world currencies.

The MSCI's index of emerging markets stocks rose 0.6% after clocking its worst day in nearly a month in the previous session.

Markets in Asia and Europe remained optimistic about Moderna Inc's experimental vaccine for COVID-19, with the drugmaker on Tuesday saying it was safe and provoked immune responses in all 45 healthy volunteers in an ongoing early-stage study.

"The sentiment pendulum is positioned to swing deeper into 'risk-on' territory as markets take heart from vaccine hopes and expectations of further stimulus for pandemic-hit economies," said Lukman Otunuga, senior research analyst at FXTM.

However, gains were limited by simmering U.S.-China tensions after U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to Hong Kong's special status under U.S. law to punish China for what he called "oppressive actions" against the former British colony, prompting Beijing to warn of retaliatory sanctions.

Among currencies, the South African rand rose to its highest in nearly a month as investors continued to hunt for value in the high-yielding currency.

Consumer inflation data for South Africa showed a core reading of 3.1% year-on-year in May, compared with 3.2% in April.

The Hungarian forint gained the most among its central and eastern European peers as the National Bank of Hungary said it would further ease the terms of its 1.5 trillion forint ($4.82 billion) cheap loans scheme to help businesses access cheap funding amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Russian rouble firmed against the dollar ahead of bond auctions by the finance ministry that can often buttress the currency.

Demand for these bonds has been strong among foreign investors in recent months, which also serves as a gauge of global market sentiment towards Russian assets and can support the currency.

Civil unrest hit the Belarusian capital city of Minsk as hundreds of people took to the streets on Tuesday after the central election commission refused to register the two main rivals of President Alexander Lukashenko as candidates in the Aug. 9 presidential election.

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 Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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