November 20, 2019 / 10:18 AM / 19 days ago

EMERGING MARKETS-EM stocks, currencies dip as trade tensions intensify

* Trump threatens to raise tariffs on Chinese imports

* Beijing condemns U.S. bill on Hong Kong

* China, Hong Kong shares slide after two days of gains

* South African rand inches lower on inflation data

By Sagarika Jaisinghani

Nov 20 (Reuters) - Emerging market stocks fell on Wednesday as tensions flared again between Washington and Beijing, adding to uncertainty over whether the two sides can end a trade dispute that is one of the biggest risks to global economic growth.

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he would raise tariffs again if no trade deal was reached, while Beijing on Wednesday condemned U.S. legislation aimed at protecting human rights in Hong Kong, vowing to take steps to safeguard its sovereignty.

“There is a possibility that this is not going to create a barrier to negotiating at least a ‘phase one’ trade deal, but there is also a risk that the opposite happens, and the market is now focusing on the risk rather than the opportunity,” said Cristian Maggio, head of emerging market strategy at TD Securities.

The Russian rouble and Turkish lira eased against a firmer dollar, while currencies in central and eastern European economies including Hungary, Poland and Romania dipped to the euro.

Conflicting headlines on whether trade Sino-U.S. negotiations are making headway, coupled with political tensions in Turkey and anti-government protests in Hong Kong, have kept investors in emerging markets on edge over the past few weeks.

An index of developing world stocks is eyeing its smallest monthly gain in three, while a basket tracking their currencies is on track to post a decline after gaining for two months in a row.

Stocks in mainland China and Hong Kong closed down after rising for two straight sessions, while shares in South Korea shed 1.3% to log their worst day in more than a month. The country is generally sensitive to trade-related news, given its reliance on tech exports.

The South African rand fell about 0.7% as headline consumer inflation slowed to 3.7% in October from 4.1% in September. The currency has been rattled this month by signs that the economy was flagging.

Investors’ attention is now turning to major central banks for further clues on monetary policy. Minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting are due on Wednesday, while ECB chief Christine Lagarde delivers her first major speech on Friday.

Russian stocks shed more than half a percent in early trading on low oil prices, but recovered to trade marginally higher as Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), forecast a potential increase in global oil demand.

Russia’s Gazprom, the world’s top gas producer, jumped 7% after a report that it was considering selling more of the treasury shares it holds on its balance sheet this year.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2019, see tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2019, see tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX

For TOP NEWS across emerging markets

For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

For TURKISH market report, see

For RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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