April 2, 2019 / 8:39 AM / 5 months ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Stocks up; diplomatic tensions with U.S. hit Turkey's lira

* MSCI EM index up for fourth day, but gains limited

* Turkey's lira falls after U.S. halts F-35 equipment delivery

* Rally in South African rand fades

By Susan Mathew

April 2 (Reuters) - Emerging-market shares looked set to extend gains for a fourth day on Tuesday after upbeat manufacturing data from the United States further eased concern about a slowdown in global growth.

U.S. data on Monday showed improvements in manufacturing activity last month and construction spending for February. That followed Chinese data showing manufacturing returned to growth for the first time in four months in March.

Most stock indexes across Asia ended higher, although Chinese blue chips finished lower.

But gains in MSCI's index of emerging-market shares were capped at 0.16 percent, after losses in countries like Turkey and South Africa that were under pressure from political tension and weak local manufacturing.

Stocks in Turkey fell 0.3 percent and the lira gave up 1.6 percent after the United States halted delivery of equipment related to the F-35 fighter aircraft to Turkey.

The disagreement is the latest of a series of diplomatic disputes between the United States and Turkey, which were partly responsible for pushing the currency into a crisis last year.

Also playing into the lira's recent volatility were local elections, which saw President Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party lose Istanbul and Ankara on Monday.

South African shares fell 0.3 percent after gaining 3.5 percent over the last five sessions. The rand gave up Monday's gains, which came following Moody's delaying its rating decision.

The country's seasonally adjusted Absa Purchasing Managers' Index fell for a third consecutive month in March, a survey showed on Monday, hurt by power cuts and fewer new sales orders, just a few weeks ahead of general elections.

Strength in the U.S. dollar, supported by rising U.S. bond yields, also weakened emerging-market currencies.

The Romanian leu was higher against a weaker euro before a central bank meeting. A Reuters poll early in March had forecast the central bank would leave interest rates unchanged at 2.50 percent.

Hungary's forint was set to extend losses to a sixth straight session and nine of the past 10 sessions.

Hungary's deputy central bank governor, Marton Nagy, said giving strong forward guidance on Hungary's monetary policy outlook would be irresponsible in the current volatile international environment.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2019, see tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2019, 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 Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; editing by Larry King)

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