EMERGING MARKETS-Stocks firm with all eyes on Fed; Ukraine's hryvnia hits four-year low

·3 min read

* Stocks rise after three-day rout

* Fed decision at 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT)

* U.S., UK could consider personal sanctions on Putin

* Fed's tightening could slow Asia's recovery - IMF

By Susan Mathew

Jan 26 (Reuters) - Emerging market stocks firmed on Wednesday, with all eyes on the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy statement later in the session, while Ukraine's hryvnia slipped as Russia continued its military build-up near its neighbour.

MSCI's index of emerging shares was up 0.1% after a three-day rout over which it lost about 3.6%.

An index of Asian shares was flat, torn between losses in Taiwan and South Korea, and gains in China mainland and Hong Kong tech ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.

Main indexes in Russia, South Africa, Poland and Saudi Arabia all rose 0.6% and 2%.

Currencies of the developing world made small moves, as did the dollar, as investors awaited more clarity from the Fed amid speculation that its first interest hike of the year could be brought forward to the meeting ending on Wednesday.

While a 25 basis point March rate hike is priced in, investors are seeking clarity on the magnitude, pace and number of hikes for the year as inflation surges. The decision is due at 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT).

"Fed President Jerome Powell will probably try and get out of providing concrete statements on the rate cycle at this point of time so that they can take a decision based on the data over the coming months," said Antje Praefcke, FX and EM analyst at Commerzbank.

Higher U.S. rates dent the appeal for riskier emerging market assets, especially those with high external debt. Currencies see narrowing interest rate differentials which keep them attractive for carry trade.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut 2022 world economic growth forecast, highlighting that the Fed tightening could delay Asia's recovery.

But foreign investors are piling into China at the start of 2022, seeing it as a haven from the inflation, growth and pandemic problems plaguing most other markets.

The IMF also warned that a Russia-Ukraine military conflict would keep inflation higher for longer via increased energy and commodity costs.

The United States and UK said they could consider imposing personal sanctions on Putin if Russia were to invade Ukraine. Moscow launched a fresh set of navy drills to rehearse protecting Arctic shipping lane, while it continues a troop build-up near Ukraine.

Russia's rouble swung between small losses and gains to Tuesday's close, while Ukraine's hryvnia slipped to four-year lows of 28.83 per dollar.

Political advisers from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany are set to meet in Paris, while Putin and France's Emmanuel Macron are to talk on Friday.

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

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For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

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For RUSSIAN market report, see

(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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