What Has Changed in EM

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  • Prime Minister Phuc said Vietnam will ease the limits on foreign ownership of banks this year
  • Russia’s government is working on measures to limit ruble volatility, including possible FX purchases
  • Turkey’s central bank start auctioning FX swaps to help support the lira
  • Brazil’s central bank resumed rolling over FX swaps
  • Brazilian Supreme Court Judge Zavascki was tragically killed in a plane accident
  • Chile’s central bank started the easing cycle
  • Mexico significantly lowered its FDI forecast for 2017

In the EM equity space as measured by MSCI, Turkey (+2.1%), Qatar (+2.1%), and Brazil (+2.0%) have outperformed this week, while Russia (-1.8%), Thailand (-1.5%), and South Africa (-1.0%) have underperformed. To put this in better context, MSCI EM fell -0.4% this week while MSCI DM fell -0.2%.

In the EM local currency bond space, Turkey (10-year yield -10 bp), Brazil (-10 bp), and Malaysia (-4 bp) have outperformed this week, while Poland (10-year yield +11 bp), Colombia (+8 bp), and Czech Republic (+7 bp) have underperformed. To put this in better context, the 10-year UST yield rose 9 bp this week to 2.49%.

In the EM FX space, PEN (+1.6% vs. USD), BRL (+0.9% vs. USD), and COP (+0.5% vs. USD) have outperformed this week, while TRY (-2.5% vs. USD), MXN (-1.5% vs. USD), and PHP (-0.6% vs. USD) have underperformed.

Prime Minister Phuc said Vietnam will ease the limits on foreign ownership of banks this year. The current limit is 30%, but the new ceiling was not specified. Phuc added that the government is willing to sell underperforming banks “entirely.”

Russia Deputy Prime Minister Shuvalov said the government is working on measures to limit ruble volatility, including possible FX purchases. The central bank later issued a statement saying that it “will not deviate in any way from the floating exchange rate regime.” It added that any purchases of FX would be limited to the amounts of excess revenue coming from higher-than-forecast oil prices.

Turkey’s central bank start auctioning FX swaps to help support the lira. This comes after a series of extraordinary measures were announced last week. With foreign reserves at a multi-year low of $92 bln in December, policymakers are being forced to come up with other ways besides intervention to support the lira. An aggressive rate hike next week would be a good start.

Brazil’s central bank resumed rolling over FX swaps. The central bank revived the program in November as the real came under pressure after the US election surprise, but then halted the auctions in mid-December as EM currencies stabilized.

Brazilian Supreme Court Judge Zavascki was tragically killed in a plane accident. He was the senior judge presiding over the Carwash probe. President Temer will name a replacement, but most expect the proceedings will be delayed.

Chile’s central bank started the easing cycle. It had been on hold since its last 25 bp hike back in December 2015. The 25 bp cut to 3.25% is just the first of several to be seen this year. The bank maintained its easing bias, and so another cut at the next meeting February 14 seems likely. Full minutes of this month’s meeting will be published February 3.

Mexico significantly lowered its FDI forecast for 2017. It now sees $21 bln, down from $25 bln previously and $30 bln originally forecast. Official noted that many investors are waiting for clarity on the policies of the incoming Trump administration before committing to projects.