* EM shares index down ~4% this week
* Hong Kong stocks set for worst week since March 2020
* S.African rand down 0.9%, Russian rouble at one-month low
* China central bank keeps lending rates unchanged
Aug 20 (Reuters) - Emerging market assets suffered further
selling on Friday, with the equity index down 1%, touching a new
low for the year and putting it on course for its worst week in
Worries about the impact of Chinese regulations both locally
and globally, as well as data showing a slowdown in growth
especially from the world's two biggest economies, have hammered
stocks this week. Rising cases of the coronavirus have prompted
market experts to revisit year-end growth forecasts.
In the latest regulatory shake-up, Chinese state media said
the National People's Congress passed a law on Friday to protect
online user data privacy. Chinese blue-chips lost
Hong Kong, where many Chinese tech giants are listed,
lost 2% to hit early November lows, and is on track for its
worst week since the pandemic-induced crash of March 2020.
Russia's MOEX is already about 2.5% away from
record highs touched just two days ago, while South Africa's
main index has plunged almost 5% so far this week - its
worst weekly loss since October.
Also battering markets was the U.S. Federal Reserve
signalling that it may start tapering stimulus this year. Its
September meeting will be scrutinised for more definitive clues.
"Tapering is finally at our doorstep, but we do not think
that it will be overly disruptive for (equity) markets,"
strategists at Citi said in a note on stocks in emerging EMEA
markets. "China remains our only duration overweight, but we
hedge (currencies) risk given weak economic data."
With the U.S. dollar at a 9-1/2 month high against major
peers, the EM currencies index hit four-month
lows - on course for its biggest weekly sell-off in two months.
South Africa's rand, the EM bellwether currency,
languished at five-month lows, down 0.9% on the day.
A Reuters poll showed disruptions from new coronavirus
variants, and softer commodity prices should see economic growth
in South Africa slowing next year.
Turkey's lira fell 0.1%, while Russia's rouble
hit a one-month low against the dollar on the
China's yuan touched three-week lows. As expected,
the central bank left its benchmark lending rate unchanged, but
that did little to dampen expectations for more stimulus.
As regulators raise pressure, China Evergrande
vowed to resolve its debt issues. Financial markets are worried
that any crisis at Evergrande could ripple through China's
banking system as the company struggles to find the cash it
needs to pay its many lenders and suppliers.
For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2021, see http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2021, see https://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 Susan Mathew in Bengaluru;)