By Silvio Cascione and Vuyani Ndaba
BRAZILIA/JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Emerging market currencies will likely be spared deeper sell-offs this quarter as major central banks support their respective economies amid heightened global political risk, a Reuters poll found on Tuesday.
Fallout from the Brexit vote in Europe and uncertainties over the U.S. presidential election are unlikely to hurt emerging market currencies significantly over the next three months, according to 34 of 48 strategists in a global survey.
"Much looser G4 monetary policy will provide continued support for emerging market currencies through the second half, particularly those that are dollar cross-traded," said Peter Attard Montalto, emerging market economist at Nomura in London.
"However key risks skew things to the downside – Italy’s potential banking crunch, China, Brexit fallout proving worse and domestic idiosyncratic risks like terrorism in Turkey or politics in South Africa, all have to be watched for," he added.
Emerging market currencies fell worldwide after Britain's surprising decision to leave the European Union, late last month. However, most have recovered losses since then, with the real <BRL=> gaining to its strongest in almost one year.
"Emerging financial markets are often hit hard during bouts of investor risk aversion, but most have come through the past few days in reasonable shape," wrote William Jackson, senior economist at Capital Economics, in an emailed comment.
That vote of confidence in currencies as diverse as the Brazilian real and the South African rand contrasts with the sheer volatility seen in the beginning of the year, when doubts over Chinese economic growth and a commodities sell-off sent exchange rates tumbling in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Part of that optimism stems from the perception that emerging currencies have little further to weaken after roughly five years of widespread losses.
It also reflects the view that policymakers are ready to protect their currencies if needed, as in Mexico, where the central bank jacked up interest rates last week by a surprising 50 basis points.
Some emerging market central banks like the South African Reserve Bank are already in a tightening cycle having already propped up their respective benchmark rates in the last 18 months in expectation of hikes in the United States this year.
After raising rates for the first time in nearly a decade in December, Fed policymakers have pushed back expectations of future rate hikes, a further benefit to emerging markets that could help offset fears over a possible Donald Trump victory in the November U.S. presidential election.
"The most attractive EM assets remain in those countries where local stories are strong and where yields are high. Examples include Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia and Russia," wrote Wike Groenenberg, global head of emerging markets strategy at BNP Paribas, in a research note.
(Polling by Sarmista Sen and Vartika Sahu; Editing by Ross Finley and Richard Balmforth)