July 6, 2018 / 9:51 AM / 3 months ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Stocks head for longest weekly losing streak since Nov 2016

* Emerging markets steady after U.S tariff move on Chinese goods

* EM stock set for 4th week of losses, longest streak since 2016

* Currencies like rand and Mex peso make milestone weekly gains

* Sell-off expected to resume if trade tension escalate

By Marc Jones

LONDON, July 6 (Reuters) - Emerging market stocks and a clutch of top currencies nudged higher on Friday, as the imposition of $34 billion of U.S. trade tariffs on China capped another bruising week for investors.

There was still plenty in store. Beijing was readying to return fire and keenly-watched U.S. jobs data were due later , but for the time being it was almost a relief that the first round of the U.S.-Sino trade fight was over.

MSCI’s 24-country emerging market stock index was positive for the first time in five days, although it was having to cling on and was about to chalk up its longest weekly losing streak since November 2016.

Chinese shares had also closed higher having flirted with 2-year lows at one point and while the yuan was down a third of a percent it was off its recent lows.

“Any further escalation (in trade tariffs) isn’t going to be good but the market is hoping it gets resolved somehow,” said North Asset Management EM portfolio manager Peter Kisler.

“Obviously if it doesn’t get resolved we will go back to selling off,” he added, saying that though his firm had now covered a lot of its short positions in emerging market assets, “it is still too early to go long.”

Data from flow specialist EPFR showed nervy investors have pulled money out of EM stocks funds for a seventh straight week and from EM bonds for an 11th straight week. The outflows have been chunky too, at $1 billion and $1.5 billion respectively.

Turkey’s lira, another major casualty in what is now a six month sell-off in emerging markets, was slipping back again after it had been boosted on Thursday by talk of an end to the country’s ‘state of emergency’ restrictions.

Fellow FX struggler, South Africa’s rand, dipped 0.2 percent as well but was heading for its first weekly rise in six weeks amid some tentative signs of stabilisation in a number of other big emerging market currencies.

Most Asia and eastern European FX markets had taken the U.S. tariff move in their stride and Mexico’s peso, which has been in the firing line during NAFTA renegotiations with the United States and Canada, was set for its best week since early 2016.

The average yield on local currency EM debt has also dropped again this week and is now at 6.57 percent from almost 6.8 percent just a couple of weeks ago.

It has been another hard one though for Brazil’s real , the Korean won and India’s rupee, not to mention China’s yuan which has now fallen against the dollar for seven of the last eight weeks.

“The big picture is that emerging markets went from being quite expensive to being reasonably cheap,” said North Asset Management’s Kisler.

“But the issue is if we are in a late cycle of U.S. and global expansion then it could be just that EM is the canary in the coal mine and there will be a wider selloff ahead.”

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2018, see tmsnrt.rs/2e7eoml For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2018, see tmsnrt.rs/2dZbdP5

For TOP NEWS across emerging markets

For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

For TURKISH market report, see

For RUSSIAN market report, see)

Reporting by Marc Jones Graphics by Claire Milhench Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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