Emerging market currencies continued their descent on Wednesday as investors sought refuge in perceived safer assets on fears of a global recession, while awaiting clues on the path of U.S. interest rates.
The Turkish lira slid towards June lows, last down 1.3% at 17.24, while South Africa’s rand, also down over 1%, hit fresh 2020 lows.
Eastern European currencies extended sharp losses from the previous session when the euro hit a two-decade low on worries about soaring energy prices after a strike in the Norwegian oil and gas sector and a dip in flows of Russian gas to Europe.
The Hungarian forint tumbled to a record low versus the euro at 411 and the Polish zloty slid 0.8% to 4.79.
“The selling pressure on various EM currencies prevails due to the market concerns that the global economy could be heading for recession caused by historically high inflation,” said Piotr Matys, senior FX analyst at In Touch Capital Markets in London.
“The dollar is the ultimate safe haven and is benefiting from its status.”
Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s June meeting, where the U.S. central bank raised interest rates by 75 basis points, are due later in the day.
Worries about harsh U.S. rate hikes causing a recession have hit global financial markets this year, with riskier assets such as cryptocurrencies, stocks and emerging markets assets taking a beating.
“Emerging markets will remain under selling pressure in the short-term horizons until the Fed explicitly says that they are approaching the end of a tightening cycle,” added Matys.
The Romanian leu, tightly controlled by the central bank, was little changed versus the euro after the central bank lifted its benchmark interest rate by a more-than-expected one percentage point to 4.75%.
The hike, its seventh since October, still leaves Romania lagging behind its central European peers, who have sharply raised rates in the last year to combat surging inflation.
Poland’s central bank is expected to hike rates by 75 basis points to 6.75% on Thursday.
Most stock markets in Asia were lower, pulling the MSCI EM equities index down 0.9% to its lowest since June 2020. However, stock markets in emerging Europe rebounded along with wider euro zone stocks.
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