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By Sruthi Shankar
Emerging markets edged lower on Friday as caution prevailed ahead of U.S. jobs data which could offer clues on interest rate prospects, while Indian stocks tumbled after the government unveiled its first budget since winning a second term.
The rupee erased early losses and firmed at 68.43 per dollar, but main S&P BSE Sensex and the Nifty 50 indices lost about 0.8% after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the budget aimed at boosting infrastructure in several sectors.
Shares of Indian jewellers were among major losers after India raised import duties on gold and other precious metals to 12.5% from 10%.
Trading was cautious as investors assessed details of the government's spending plans, any proposals for tax cuts and whether it will raise its fiscal deficit target.
"This budget is a mixed bag with a significant increase in taxation for the wealthy. Also, the increase in excise duty for petrol and diesel will stoke inflation," said Abhimanyu Sofat, head of research at IIFL Securities Ltd in Mumbai.
"On the positive side, reducing stake in PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings) and borrowing money in overseas markets is a good move."
The broader NSE index climbed to a record high in early June, but since has succumbed to selling pressure on concerns over sluggish domestic consumption, rising bad bank loans and rich valuations.
Among other currencies, the Turkish lira weakened, but was on course to cap its best week since early May. Worries of potential U.S. sanctions on Turkey returned after local broadcaster Haberturk said the first of the Russian S-400 defence systems that Ankara has purchased will be loaded on to cargo planes on Sunday and arrive next week.
Washington has said U.S. sanctions would be triggered when the missile batteries arrive in Turkey.
EYES ON JOBS REPORT
The South African rand dipped even as its central bank data showed net foreign reserves rose to $43.940 billion in June from $43.178 billion in May.
Developing world currencies have had a strong run in the first half of 2019 on growing signals that central banks including the U.S. Federal Reserve will resort to rate cuts to stir growth amid a global slowdown.
Investors are awaiting the U.S. jobs report, due later in the day, which could deflate or fuel those expectations.
"(The jobs report) is the elephant in the room, waiting to see if the U.S. economy is actually going to contract like the markets have expected, forcing the Fed to cut rates," said Monex Europe FX analyst Simon Harvey.
"It has such significance because it decides where the U.S. dollar and fixed income markets are headed and if the funding currency is cheaper then it could boost emerging markets."
The MSCI index of emerging stocks, though trading slightly lower on the day, was on course to post a sixth straight week of gains, helped by hopes of looser monetary policy and a temporary trade truce between the United States and China.
But in signs that the long-drawn, unresolved trade war is taking a hit on corporate profit, South Korea's tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd forecast a steep plunge in its second-quarter operating profit, hitting shares of chipmakers around the world.
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Krishna V Kurupin in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)