CORRECTED-EMERGING MARKETS-Stocks, European currencies cheered by slowdown in COVID-19 toll

(In paragraph 12 and 3rd bullet point, corrects to show Indian markets closed, rupee fell on Friday not Monday)

* South African stocks lead gains among peers

* Russia’s rouble steady as production deal eyed

* India’s service sector shrinks in March, rupee set for pressure

By Ambar Warrick

April 6 (Reuters) – Most developing world stocks rose on Monday and European currencies gained as investors took heart from a slowdown in coronavirus-related deaths and new cases in Europe.

The death toll from the virus appeared to be slowing across several European countries and the rate of new cases in Italy – the worst-hit country in Europe – also dipped.

MSCI’s index of emerging market stocks added some 1.3%, while Hungary’s forint, the Czech koruna and the Polish zloty all rose between 0.3% to 0.8% against the euro.

Still, with a deep global recession on the horizon as more countries curb economic activity to combat the virus, the day’s gains were a smidgen of what has been lost over the past month.

“A fall in the number of new cases in some European countries is giving rise to hope. Only that the FX market is not the place to trade epidemiological hopes; the only thing that matters here are the economic effects,” Commerzbank analysts wrote in a note.

“And as far as that is concerned things are still not looking great in Europe.”

South African stocks jumped more than 4%, leading gains among their peers, while Turkish and Russian bourses added about 1.5% and 1% respectively.

All three indexes had marked multi-year lows in March, and were a far cry from levels seen prior to the outbreak.

Russia’s rouble was steady despite further weakness in oil prices, as markets held out for a possible production deal between the country and Saudi Arabia.

Oil prices retreated on the day after Saudi-Russian talks were postponed to later in the week.

Data in India showed that the country’s services sector unexpectedly shrank in March – another economic casualty of the virus.

While Indian markets were closed for a holiday, the rupee had ended last week within spitting distance of a record low to the dollar, as economic activity ground to a halt amid a 21-day lockdown to combat the virus.

Broader emerging market currencies remained on the back foot, with a holiday in China also prompting languid trade.

MSCI’s index of developing world currencies inched lower for the day, hovering around three-year lows. The index had marked its worst quarter in about five years.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2020, see For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2020, see

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For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

For TURKISH market report, see

For RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)

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