LONDON, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Healthy gains in tech stocks and soaring commodity prices helped emerging shares to a new one-month high on Thursday, while South Africa’s rand scaled a fresh 2-1/2 year peak on bets that Jacob Zuma could be removed as president and a softer dollar.
Having risen 33 percent this year, MSCI’s emerging market benchmark advanced 0.8 percent in a second day of gains as Asian shares ex-Japan flirted with their highest level in a decade.
Heavyweight South Korea did much of the lifting, racing 1.3 percent higher in the bourse’s last trading day of 2017, with the technology sector jumping 2.4 percent.
A saggy dollar and a pull-back in Treasuries also helped emerging assets while strong commodity markets added to the buoyant mood, supporting many emerging currencies.
Copper gained for the tenth straight session to hover around a four year peak while Brent crude futures stayed well above the $66 dollar per barrel mark, on track for a fourth straight month of gains.
Russia’s rouble strengthened 0.6 percent on the day.
“The last week of the year began on a positive note for the rouble,” Alexey Zakharov at SEB wrote in a note to clients.
“The USDRUB pair crossed 58.00 level for the first time since November and is now trading around 57.70, supported by bullish Brent dynamics.”
South Africa’s rand briefly touched another 2-1/2 year high with investors believing a leadership change in the ruling party would spur an economic rebound.
Since Cyril Ramaphosa was elected President Jacob Zuma’s successor as head of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) last Monday, the rand has gained close to 10 percent against the dollar, making it one of the best performing major emerging market currencies this year.
In emerging Europe, the Czech crown jumped over one percent against the euro, rebounding from a sharp drop in the previous session when end-of-year accounting of banks’ balance sheets had made it more expensive to hold the currency.
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Reporting by Karin Strohecker, Editing by William Maclean