February 14, 2017 / 9:36 AM / 10 months ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Emerging stocks at new 19-mth highs before Yellen

LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Emerging stocks inched to new 19-month highs on Tuesday and most currencies rose against the weaker dollar but the possibility of a March U.S. rate rise and Chinese inflation at multi-year highs kept gains in check.

The rouble enjoyed its fifth straight day of gains on the back of stable oil prices and a central bank that has signalled its intention of keeping interest rates high, while the dollar easing off three-week highs after the resignation of a key U.S. presidential adviser supported most emerging assets.

MSCI’s emerging equity index rose 0.2 percent, tracking world stocks higher, though markets remain wary before a testimony by U.S. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen later in the day, in case she makes a case for a rate rise in March.

Gains were also capped by data showing Chinese consumer inflation quickening to the fastest pace since May 2014 while factory prices rose at the quickest rate since mid-2011. While this shows China is at no risk of a big slowdown, it will confirm Beijing’s recent shift to a tighter monetary policy stance.

Chinese stocks were flat on the day, both on the mainland and in Hong Kong .

“This (inflation data) is important in that it continues a trend we have seen and fits in with this global reflation theme. 2.5 percent is still short of the 3 percent target that the central bank has but if this trend continues, the central bank will have to consider tightening monetary policy,” said Jakob Christensen, chief emerging markets analyst at Danske Bank.

India’s wholesale prices also rose at the fastest pace in two-and-a-half years in January, reinforcing the central bank’s decision last week to move to a neutral policy stance as inflation risks grow.

The weak dollar boosted the rouble more than half a percnt to a new 19-month high while earlier in the day Asian currencies surged, led by the Korean won, which jumped more than 1 percent. The rand jumped around 1 percent.

The Turkish lira firmed 0.5 percent to a one-month high , helped also by data showing a smaller-than-forecast current account deficit in December.

Christensen said however that some of the improvement was down to seasonal factors and there was reason to believe recent lira weakness would not translate into a significant improvement in the deficit, which is considered Turkey’s Achilles heel.

“There are some structural factors we should keep in mind - one is the impact of the fear of terrorism on tourism, and trade with Russia is also slow to pick up,” he added.

In central Europe, stock markets fell and currencies were unchanged against the euro, with Warsaw stocks retreating from 17-month highs after Hungary and the Czech Republic reported lower-than-expected economic growth for the last quarter of 2016. Romania however posted above-forecast 4.7 percent growth.

Hungary also showed a rise in the annual inflation to 2.3 percent in January, above a 2 percent forecast. The data came after Czech and Polish figures earlier this week also showed a pick up in inflation.

The Serbian dinar was slightly firmer against the euro before a central bank meeting that is likely to keep interest rates steady.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2017, see tmsnrt.rs/2e7eoml For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2017, see tmsnrt.rs/2dZbdP5

For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

For TURKISH market report, see

For RUSSIAN market report, see )

Emerging Markets Prices from Reuters Equities Latest Net Chg % Chg % Chg

on year

Morgan Stanley Emrg Mkt Indx 936.61 +1.16 +0.12 +8.62

Czech Rep 968.56 -3.63 -0.37 +5.09

Poland 2167.26 -12.40 -0.57 +11.26

Hungary 33345.12 -11.07 -0.03 +4.19

Romania 7580.94 -59.95 -0.78 +7.00

Greece 623.68 -5.46 -0.87 -3.10

Russia 1169.69 -3.48 -0.30 +1.51

South Africa 45454.49 -487.32 -1.06 +3.54

Turkey 87846.47 -731.84 -0.83 +12.42

China 3218.38 +1.55 +0.05 +3.70

India 28343.80 -7.82 -0.03 +6.45

Currencies Latest Prev Local Local

close currency currency

% change % change

in 2017

Czech Rep 27.02 27.01 -0.03 -0.04

Poland 4.30 4.31 +0.15 +2.33

Hungary 308.23 308.20 -0.01 +0.19

Romania 4.50 4.50 -0.05 +0.81

Serbia 123.75 123.89 +0.11 -0.32

Russia 57.63 57.97 +0.60 +6.31

Kazakhstan 321.57 322.76 +0.37 +3.76

Ukraine 27.17 27.38 +0.77 -0.63

South Africa 13.19 13.33 +1.04 +4.07

Kenya 103.55 103.60 +0.05 -1.14

Israel 3.74 3.75 +0.10 +2.86

Turkey 3.65 3.67 +0.46 -3.48

China 6.86 6.88 +0.20 +1.15

India 66.94 66.92 -0.03 +1.50

Brazil 3.11 3.11 +0.00 +4.57

Mexico 20.21 20.28 +0.34 +2.49

Debt Index Strip Spd Chg %Rtn Index

Sov‘gn Debt EMBIG 330 -2 .07 7 61.33 1

Additional reporting by Claire Milhench, Editing by Angus MacSwan

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