March 1, 2019 / 9:53 AM / in a year

EMERGING MARKETS-Chinese stocks lead gains after MSCI move; FX weaker

* Mainland China stocks up at least 1.8 pct

* Doubts over U.S.-China trade deal cast a shadow

* Romania awaits S&P credit rating

By Susan Mathew and Aaron Saldanha

March 1 (Reuters) - Emerging-market stocks rose for the first time in four sessions on Friday, led by Chinese shares, which jumped on greater inclusion in indexes widely watched by investors.

Doubts over the fate of a U.S.-China trade deal curbed appetite for risk, however. Developing-world currencies weakened against the dollar, which was buoyed by upbeat fourth-quarter growth in the world’s top economy.

MSCI’s index of emerging market shares climbed 0.3 percent, but it remained on track for a 0.5 percent weekly loss.

Chinese stocks rose after global index provider MSCI said it would raise the weighting of China’s mainland equities in its global benchmarks later this year.

That could draw more than $80 billion of fresh foreign funds into China, and it seemed to help investors look past data showing Chinese manufacturing activity shrank again in February.

China’s currency weakened after U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday threatened to walk away from a trade deal if it wasn’t good enough, but White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow later called progress in the talks “fantastic”.

“The uncertainties surrounding the trade talks have not decreased at all,” said Commerzbank analysts. “The proposed Trump-Xi (Jinping) summit in late March at Mar-a-Lago is not confirmed yet.

“You can’t expect one meeting to address the standoff between China and U.S.,” they said, pointing to the abrupt end to a meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday without a deal.

Indian shares rose as Pakistan prepared to return a captured Indian Air Force pilot, potentially easing strained relations between the two nuclear powers.

India’s manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest pace in more than a year in February, a private survey showed. In Russia it almost stagnated.

Higher prices of oil supported the rouble, though, while the lira of net oil importer Turkey slid half a percent.

In emerging Europe, Hungary’s forint was up against the euro as fourth-quarter economic growth was revised higher.

The Romanian leu gained 0.1 percent against the euro before a Standard and Poor’s review of the country’s credit rating.

Uncertainty sparked by a bank tax has dimmed investor sentiment towards Romania recently, but the country’s finance minister said this week the tax could exempt several types of financial assets.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2019, see For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2019, see

For TOP NEWS across emerging markets

For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

For TURKISH market report, see

For RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Susan Mathew and Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru;)

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