EMERGING MARKETS-Asia tech rout drags stocks lower on pandemic, crackdown worries

* EM stocks index down 1% do far this week

* EM tech index slips to two-week lows

* S.African rand falls, COVID-19 curbs should stay- Health Min

* EM bonds outflows widens this week – JPM

Aug 13 (Reuters) – Emerging market shares fell 0.8% on Friday, pressured by a slide in China’s semiconductor sub-index that weighed on other chipmakers, especially in South Korea and Taiwan.

Spooked by regulatory crackdowns and rising COVID-19 cases in China, investors pulled out of highly valued tech stocks, with Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and Xiaomi dropping between 2.5% and 3.2%.

“The question on everyone’s lips now is who’s next? Or will already targeted sectors such as technology and education be in for more government oversight and intervention (in China),” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA.

As Chinese chips stocks fell 4%, South Korea’s KOSPI and Taiwan’s main index lost more than 1% each, while MSCI’s gauge of emerging market tech stocks lost 1.7% to hit a two-week low.

Worsening congestion off China’s top two container ports in Shanghai and Ningbo following the shutdown of a container terminal in Ningbo due to the pandemic is also likely to disrupt supply chains further, Oanda’s Halley said.

“Those ripples won’t just be felt in China but also globally.”

With equities in Russia, South Africa and Poland shedding 0.1% each on Friday, MSCI’s index of emerging market stocks index is down nearly 1% for the week.

Developing market currencies also fell, a day after rates were kept steady in the Philippines and Turkey. Central banks in Mexico and Peru maintained a dovish outlook after raising rates on Thursday, as the countries battle another COVID-19 wave.

Minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s July meeting next week will be eyed for clues on stimulus tapering. Speculation about its timing has weighed on riskier currencies this week, with an index of EM currencies heading for a 0.4% weekly loss.

The Polish zloty was set for its best session in two weeks after political tensions had pressured the currency earlier this week.

Data showed that Polish GDP jumped 10.9% year-on-year but came in just below expectations for an 11% rise.

South Africa’s rand fell 0.4%. The country’s health minister said on Friday he would not recommend further easing COVID-19 lockdowns despite falling infections.

For the week, EM bonds saw net outflows of $276 million, 40% more than last week, while equities saw inflows reduce to $361 million from $1.7 billion, according to JPMorgan.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2021, see tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2021, see tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX

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