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Emerging market reprieve is only temporary: Pimco

Emerging markets may have dodged a liquidity draining bullet with the U.S. Federal Reserve delaying its asset-purchase tapering plans, but the reprieve is only temporary according to Pimco's Ramin Toloui.

"Don't mistake this period of stability for the idea there are no problems and therefore there's no need for action," said Toloui, co-head of emerging markets portfolio management at Pimco, which has nearly $2 trillion under management.

"This postponement of tapering is an opportunity for emerging market countries to strengthen their economies during a period of stability rather than a period of volatility," he added.

(Read more: Emerging markets poised for further rally: BofA-ML)

Over the May-to-September period, emerging market stocks and currencies convulsed after the Fed said it was considering tapering its $85-billion-a-month asset-purchase program. But markets stabilized after the Fed decided to keep its asset purchases steady at its September meeting and as economists pushed back their tapering expectations to 2014.

"The key thing to watch in emerging markets in coming months are which countries use any period of stability to strengthen their economies for the long term versus those that are inclined to take a victory lap and say that the volatility we experienced during the summer is over," Toloui said.

"It's still important to differentiate within the emerging market universe," he said.

(Read more: With debt deal done, are emerging markets set to soar?)

He noted factors such as foreign-exchange reserves, international debt and current account deficits became "meaningful markers" for how different countries' financial assets performed over the May-to-September period.

"Another area of differentiation is the policy response of different countries to volatility and whether that policy response was a short-term ad hoc one or whether it was reflecting the importance of putting in place an environment for the long-term success of the economy."

Toloui sees Mexico as a positive example of an emerging market pursuing structural change, with the government embarking on fiscal and energy sector reforms.

An Indonesian farmer waters his vegetable patch
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An Indonesian farmer waters his vegetable patch

"There are countries that are financially vulnerable and have not demonstrated the same policy determination," he noted. "The case is out on how much progress India and Indonesia will be making. Turkey is another country that investors should be cautious on."

(Read more: IMF cuts growth forecast for emerging world)

Others have also noted that while markets have stabilized, the tapering bullet has only been dodged temporarily.

"We're playing a hope trade. We know what the answer is but we're going to continue to hope as long as we can," said James Sullivan, JP Morgan's head of Asean equity research.

"A stupid analogy is: I know I'm not getting a present for Christmas. But up until the time when I rip open the package, I'm still hoping that it's the present I want. You know it's not. But the hope trade will drive markets for a while. The question is, when's Christmas?"

By CNBC's Leslie Shaffer. Follow her on Twitter: @LeslieShaffer1

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