Ukraine crisis slams Russian, other EM assets

* Russian stocks slide, rouble at 14-month lows

* Central and eastern European stocks, FX drop sharply

* Latam stocks set for worst day since November

By Susan Mathew and Shreyashi Sanyal

Jan 24 (Reuters) - Russia's rouble and stocks slid on Monday, and emerging markets across Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America dropped sharply as worries that Moscow could invade Ukraine gripped the West.

The rouble RUB= RUBUTSTN=MCX , which began the year at around 74 per greenback, slid almost 2% to 14-month lows and Ukraine's hryvnia UAH= moved closer to more than one-year lows, as the European Union readied "never-seen-before" sanctions and the NATO beefed up reinforcements to eastern Europe.

Dollar bonds in both countries XS1303929894=TE RU000A0JXU22=TE extended declines.

The Kremlin accused the West of "hysteria" and has maintained that it had no plans to attack its neighbour. But it has massed about 100,000 troops near Ukraine's borders. Many countries have begun evacuating their diplomats from Kyiv.

"What you see now is the market catching up with changing the implied expectations. ... You are seeing a substantially higher chance of conflict ... and many investors are starting to hedge their positions," Cristian Maggio, head of strategy at TD Securities, said.

"The Eastern European region remains the epicentre of the crisis. Surely you may see emerging markets in general retreat a bit."

The Belarusian rouble BNY= dropped 1.4% to hit April lows, while the Polish zloty EURPLN= , Czech crown EURCZK= and the Hungarian forint EURHUF= slid around 0.5% despite a weaker euro. South Africa's rand ZAR= retreated 1% from over two-month highs.

Among stocks, the Russian benchmark .IMOEX hit over one-year lows led by energy majors, while the dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS plummetted as much as 11%.

Those in central and eastern Europe .WIG .BUX .BETI fell between 1.2% and 4.6%. Turkey stocks .XU100 lost 5%.

Maggio said the increased tensions pose an upside risk to the 50-basis-point hike he predicted from Bank of Russia in February.

The Turkish lira TRY= was kept afloat by the Finance Minister's prediction that inflation could rise to some 40% in the coming three months before falling, lower than 50% anticipated by economists for the first half.

In Latin America, Brazil's real BRBY and Mexico's peso MXN= lost 0.8% and 0.7%, respectively. Stocks in the region .MILA00000PUS fell 2.9%, tracking its worst day since late November.

Mexico faces risks to economic growth and potential for a credit rating downgrade in the medium term from political developments including the likely passage of a controversial energy bill, JP Morgan said in a report.

Washington flagged concerns about the bill on Friday, saying it could impede investment and economic development in North America.

Officials, lawmakers and business leaders say in private they believe the initiative will be watered down, but it is unclear by how much or whether it will be enough to restore bruised investor confidence.

Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1437 GMT:

Stock indexes


Daily %

change MSCI Emerging Markets .MSCIEF


-1.97 MSCI LatAm .MILA00000PUS


-2.93 Brazil Bovespa



-1.63 Mexico IPC



-2.13 Chile IPSA



-3.05 Argentina MerVal


81252.74 -2.834 Colombia COLCAP






Daily %

change Brazil real



-0.82 Mexico peso



-0.84 Chile peso



-0.46 Colombia peso COP=


-0.49 Peru sol



-0.15 Argentina peso (interbank)


-0.16 ARS=RASL

Argentina peso (parallel) ARSB=



Reporting by Susan Mathew and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Barbara Lewis and Richard Chang

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