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Emerging Stocks Target 6-Month High on China Easing

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Emerging-market stocks rose, with the benchmark index closing at a six-month high, as European finance ministers moved toward a second rescue of Greece and after China cut banks’ reserve requirements.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index increased 0.4 percent to 1,066.31 at the close in New York, the highest since Aug. 4. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 percent. The Micex rose 0.7 percent in Russia after Iran halted some oil exports to France and the U.K. Mexico’s benchmark added 1 percent and Chile’s fell 0.1 percent.

Financial stocks were among the biggest gainers in MSCI’s developing-nation index after the People’s Bank of China said it will reduce the amount of cash lenders must set aside by half a percentage point beginning Feb. 24. European leaders are meeting in Brussels today to discuss a 130 billion-euro ($170 billion) Greek rescue package.

“What this reserve requirement cut shows is the commitment of the Chinese authorities toward monetary easing, and that should secure a soft landing for the Chinese economy,” John Lomax, an emerging-markets strategist at HSBC Holdings Plc, said by phone from London. The European meeting raises the “possibility of some kind of Greek deal,” he said.

China Construction Bank Corp. and China Life Insurance Co. each gained 1.1 percent in Hong Kong.

OTP Bank Nyrt., the biggest bank in Hungary, jumped 1.5 percent after rising as much as 2.6 percent as the BUX Index added 1.1 percent.

Greek Meeting

European officials attempting to fend off the euro area’s first sovereign default will try to settle remaining disputes today as they close in on a Greek bailout.

Finance ministers met at 3:30 p.m. in Brussels, joining Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, who arrived on the eve of the gathering. Their talks on his country’s second bailout in two years will aim to reconcile demands on Greek leaders, a private-creditor debt swap, the role of the European Central Bank and setting up an escrow account for interest payments.

OAO Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, rose 0.8 percent, and OAO Novatek, the country’s second-largest natural gas producer, increased 1 percent. Oil traded at $104.92 at the 1:15 p.m. New York close of Globex electronic trading, having risen as much as $2.20 to $105.44 earlier.

Alsea SAB, Mexico’s largest fast-food chain operator, gained 5.4 percent to 16.32 pesos, the highest on a closing basis since October 2007. Organizacion Soriana SAB, Mexico’s second-biggest grocery store chain, gained 2.5 percent.

South Africa

The ISE National 100 Index advanced 0.6 percent in Istanbul, its highest level since Aug. 2. The FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index climbed 0.1 percent in Johannesburg as metals prices gained.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index advanced 1.3 percent, to a record high, and in Vietnam the VN Index jumped 2.7 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex Index rose 0.8 percent.

Markets in India and Brazil were closed today for public holidays.

The extra yield investors demand to own emerging-market debt over U.S. Treasuries increased one basis point, or 0.01 percentage point, to 375, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s EMBI Global Index.

The Markit iTraxx SovX CEEMEA Index of eastern European, Middle East and Africa credit-default swaps eased five basis points to 296, according to data provider CMA.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jason Webb in London at jwebb25@bloomberg.net; Ksenia Galouchko in New York at kgalouchko1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Gavin Serkin at gserkin@bloomberg.net

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