* Hungarian forint, stocks lead gains
* South African assets under pressure after S&P downgrade
* Russia's rouble preferred in high yielding EMFX- Analyst
By Ambar Warrick
April 30 (Reuters) - Emerging market stocks rose on Thursday, extending recent gains as investors hoped for an effective COVID-19 treatment, while several nations looked set to emerge from lockdowns.
Hungarian stocks were among the top gainers, adding more than 2%, after the country lifted restrictions outside its capital.
The forint rose 0.4% to the euro. Prime Minister Viktor Orban had earlier said that the country's economy would recover swiftly after emerging from a lockdown.
Broader risk appetite was bolstered by drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc announcing that its drug remdesivir was showing promise as an effective COVID-19 treatment, helping markets shrug off dismal U.S. GDP data and words of warning from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.
The MSCI's index of emerging market stocks rose 1.3%, hitting a seven-week high. The index was set to add nearly 6% for the week. Most emerging markets will be closed on Friday on account of labour day.
Optimism over an eventual exit from lockdowns has helped developing world stocks over the past few sessions, even as the virus severely hammers the global economy.
"Markets are welcoming the turn lower in COVID-19 curves and plans to re-open closed economies. These, along with the aggressive action of global policymakers, have combined to drag gauges of financial market risk further away from their peaks in March," ING strategists wrote in a note.
Russian stocks rose nearly 1%, while the rouble outperformed most of its peers. "RUB should be the outperformer among the high yielding EM FX given the mix of high real rate, relatively solid fiscal stance and stable politics," ING analysts wrote.
Turkey's lira fell, while stocks lagged their peers after the country's trade deficit leapt 182% in March.
South Africa's rand was muted after S&P Global Ratings downgraded the country's credit rating further into non-investment grade territory. Stocks in the country were a shade lower.
Markets now eye data showing a contraction in the first-quarter euro zone GDP, and the conclusion of a European central bank meeting.
After a worse-than-expected first-quarter GDP reading from the United States, markets will be watching for the impact of lockdowns on the European economy. However, analysts expect the full economic impact to be reflected in the second quarter. 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 RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)