Emerging market stocks fell on Wednesday after six straight days of gains, with increases in coronavirus cases raising worries about the chances of a global economic recovery next year, while Turkey's lira gave back chunks of last week's historic rally.
MSCI's index of EM stocks fell 0.5%, with China blue chips and Hong Kong stocks sliding 1.5% and 0.8% respectively as a lockdown in Xian city to curb the spread of COVID-19 continued for the seventh day.
Russian stocks fell 0.8%. Turkey shares jumped about 1.2%, while South African shares inched up.
Turkey's daily new coronavirus cases jumped beyond 30,000 on Tuesday for the first time since Oct. 19, and the health minister urged the public to get vaccinated.
The MSCI EM stocks index is set to end the year around 5% lower, far underperforming an over 25% jump in the S&P 500.
"Regardless of how 'variant risks' play out, the process of emerging from the COVID tunnel will be fraught with more heat than light... Especially in EM economies hit by mounting deficits and debt," Mizuho analysts wrote in a note.
"If caught wrong-footed, this may trigger credit risk warning lights. Above all, with a hawkish Fed set to lead rate hikes, higher global yields and a stronger USD means hot money could leave EM economies out in the cold."
An index of riskier currencies gained for a seventh straight session. China's yuan edged higher, while South Africa's rand firmed 0.2%. Higher oil prices just about kept exporter Russia's rouble from slipping into the red.
Turkey's lira was down around 2% at 12 per dollar on the day, bringing losses so far this week to 12%. The beleaguered currency had rebounded more than 50% from record lows around 18 last week, after the country announced some support measures.
Despite the central bank promising support, worries persisted over soaring Turkish inflation and unorthodox monetary policy. A Reuters poll saw annual inflation topping 30% this month. The lira is down 38% in 2021.
Shares of developer China Aoyuan Group dropped 9.1% to HK$1.50, after it was served with a writ of summons issued in a Hong Kong court for a claim of $131 million in debt.
China's ride-hailing giant Didi Global plans to use a mechanism that will allow it to list shares in Hong Kong without raising capital or issuing new stock as it seeks to delist from New York, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
Central and eastern European currencies mostly gained against a weaker euro.