EMERGING MARKETS-EM stocks reel under pressure from virus impact on businesses

* Apple warns of coronavirus impact on sales

* S.African rand falls as Moody’s cuts growth forecast

* EM stocks index heads for worst day this month

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Feb 18 (Reuters) – Emerging market equities lost ground on Tuesday, as Apple Inc’s sales warning fanned fears of the impact from the coronavirus outbreak on companies and global supply chains, while South Africa’s rand weakened due to a dreary growth outlook.

The warning from the world’s most valuable technology company came as a shock to markets that bounced on the back of China’s stimulus measures on Monday.

Apple said it was unlikely to meet its March quarter sales forecast as China’s coronavirus epidemic disrupted supply chains and delayed reopening of factories after the extended Lunar New Year break.

“Apple’s woes, announced overnight, have brought a welcome dose of reality to financial markets,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

“Even if the coronavirus was to magically disappear tomorrow, the downstream effects to the disruption to global commerce and supply lines will be felt for some months to come.”

MSCI’s index for emerging market equities fell more than 1%, heading for its worst day so far this month. Throughout the month of February, markets around the globe have swayed with headlines around the coronavirus epidemic.

Officials said the total death toll from the outbreak in China has climbed to 1,868.

UK-based HSBC Holdings PLC also said the coronavirus epidemic had significantly impacted staff and customers.

Among currencies, South Africa’s rand weakened against the dollar after ratings agency Moody’s chopped its 2020 growth forecast for Africa’s most industrialized economy to 0.7% from 1.5%.

The ratings agency is the last of the three big ones to have an investment grade rating on South Africa, even as its economy remained stuck in low gear due to lacklustre private sector demand at home.

Russia’s rouble and the Turkish lira also slipped against the dollar, while the Czech crown and Poland’s zloty eased against the euro.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2020, see tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2020, see tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX

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For RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

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