Stocks, FX muted as upbeat China data fails to impress
China stocks edge higher, yuan declines
China's factory activity grows in May - survey
Turkey's lira steadies from record lows
South African rand hits record low
By Siddarth S and Amruta Khandekar
June 1 (Reuters) -Emerging markets currencies and stocks were muted on Thursday as a surprisingly upbeat Chinese factory activity report failed to dispel investor concerns about the country's slow economic recovery, while the South African rand hit an all-time low.
MSCI's emerging market equities index .MSCIEF held near the unchanged mark at 0845 GMT, after hitting a two-month low on Wednesday, with stocks in mainland China .CSI300 up 0.2%.
A private sector survey showed China's factory activity unexpectedly swung to growth in May from a decline in April, driven by improved production and demand.
China's yuan CNY=CFXS initially strengthened against the dollar but later gave up the gains, falling 0.1% and extending declines to the fourth straight session.
The latest data is in contrast to a slew of recent readings, including one on Wednesday showing a faster-than-expected deterioration in manufacturing activity, that have underscored a weak post-pandemic recovery in the world's second-largest economy.
"One set of better-than-expected Chinese data is unlikely to significantly improve market sentiment following plenty of indication that the economy is not performing as well as investors were hoping for after the COVID restrictions were eased," said Piotr Matys, senior FX analyst, In Touch Capital Markets.
The dollar =USD held strong despite some U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers pointing towards a rate hike "skip" in June and the passing of the U.S. debt ceiling bill in the House of Representatives.
"At this stage of the monetary policy cycle, it's far more important when the Fed may start cutting interest rather than when it may stop raising them. The message remains relatively clear from Fed's officials: the markets are expecting us to start cutting rates way too early," said Matys.
The broader EM currencies index .MIEM00000CUS was also muted.
South Africa's rand ZAR= fell as low as 19.9075 against the U.S. dollar, worse than the previous record low of 19.8600, due to a worsening power crisis and geopolitical tensions.
Turkey's lira TRYTOM=D3 steadied marginally after briefly dropping to a record low of 22.95 against the dollar overnight.
Former economy chief Mehmet Simsek was almost certain to be appointed to newly re-elected President Tayyip Erdogan's new cabinet, according to sources.
Also, Turkish factory activity expanded further in May, a survey showed.
Central and eastern European currencies were mixed, with the Hungarian forint EURHUF= flat against the euro, while the Polish zloty EURPLN= fell 0.1%.
Poland's manufacturing sector shrank further in May but at a shallower pace, a survey showed.
Sri Lankan shares rose after the country's central bank cut key interest rates by 250 basis points on easing inflation.
For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2023, see http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2023, see https://tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX
For TOP NEWS across emerging markets nTOPEMRG
For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see CEE/
For TURKISH market report, see .IS
For RUSSIAN market report, see RU/RUB
Reporting by Siddarth S in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich
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