December 30, 2019 / 9:07 AM / 2 months ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Assets gain as trade outlook improves; rouble rises

* EM stock index set for best month in 11

* Russian rouble near strongest levels since 2018

* Turkish lira flat after central bank changes reserve requirement

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Dec 30 (Reuters) - Emerging-market assets gained on Monday as China-U.S. trade tensions eased, while the Russian rouble strengthened against a weaker dollar during its last trading day of the year.

The relaxation in U.S.-China friction and reduced uncertainty around Brexit has helped spur demand for riskier assets, putting the MSCI's index for equities on track to end December with its biggest gain in 11 months.

The index was up 0.1%, after China's Commerce Ministry said on Sunday it had "proactively dealt with" the trade conflict with the United States this year.

"Easing trade worries and less Brexit uncertainty were the two key components of December's equity rally ... " Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, wrote in a note.

"As fears of a global recession have dissipated and the manufacturing cycle looks to be heading for a U-turn in the first half of 2020, expect to see some rotation from the U.S. into emerging markets."

MSCI's index for emerging-market currencies rose 0.2%, as most currencies in the developing world gained against the dollar, which weakened as demand for safe-haven assets waned.

Russia's rouble gained beyond 62 to the dollar on Monday and headed towards its strongest levels since 2018. The rouble became the second-best-performing currency against the greenback in 2019 after the Ukrainian hryvnia.

The Moscow Exchange will remain shut from Dec. 31 to Jan. 2, the onset of Russia's long New Year and Orthodox Christmas holidays.

The Turkish lira was flat after Turkey's central bank changed foreign-currency reserve requirements, withdrawing some $3 billion of foreign-exchange liquidity from the market.

However, data showed Turkey's economic confidence index rose for the third consecutive month in December.

In Asia, China's blue-chip index closed at an eight-month high after the country's central bank said it would switch its benchmark for floating-rate loans, a move that would lower borrowing costs.

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 Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru, editing by Larry King)

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